Area festivals add spark to Independence Day
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Area festivals add spark to Independence Day

For those wishing to avoid the crowds downtown, there are lots of options for celebrating.

fireworks over Pittsburgh

Tens of thousands of Pittsburghers will be heading to Point State Park on July Fourth to attend “Celebrate America,” the largest Independence Day event in Southwestern Pennsylvania. As in years past, the festivities downtown will include food, music, military demonstrations and kids’ activities, and will culminate in the Flashes of Freedom Fireworks Display, recognized by the American Pyrotechnics Association as one of the top 10 fireworks displays in the country.

But for those looking for an alternative way to celebrate our nation’s independence — and smaller crowds — there are several other festivals on July Fourth, all within a short drive from Pittsburgh.
Here are just a few.

Big Butler Fair
In addition to its excellent appellation, the Big Butler Fair offers an eclectic and exciting schedule of events for July Fourth, and is just a 50-minute drive from Pittsburgh.

The day begins at 9 a.m. with the Butler Fair Horse Show, and continues with the judging of open market steers.

After lunch, head over to the carnival, where you and your children can enjoy tried-and-true rides such as a carousel, Ferris wheel, and chair swings. Games will abound as well, and those with skill and good aim could find themselves travelling home with a prize goldfish or giant teddy bear.

Stick around to see who will be participating in the Celebrity Milking Contest at 7 p.m., then enjoy viewing the truck pulls. If you are so inclined, take a stab at the curiously tempting Free Giant Sundae, before settling down for the fireworks display.

This is the 164th anniversary of the Big Butler Fair, the largest agricultural fair in Western Pennsylvania. Additional information can be found at: bigbutlerfair.com.

Brentwood Fourth of July Celebration

The borough of Brentwood, nestled in Pittsburgh’s South Hills, is just a 12-minute drive from downtown. The community, which first hosted July Fourth festivities in 1919, has continued the tradition ever since.

What began as a small parade 100 years ago has transitioned to a three-day celebration that draws crowds from across the region, while still retaining “the idyllic, old-fashioned charm of a small-town carnival,” according to the event’s website.

The celebration starts off on Saturday, June 29, with a Community Day featuring entertainment, a physical fitness program, food and children’s activities, and continues on July 3 with a street fair hosted by the Brentwood Business Owners Association on the Brownsville Road corridor with music, food and games.

On July Fourth, Brentwood hosts its annual Firecracker 5K, followed by the community’s storied parade which includes marching bands, floats, and local dignitaries. The evening is capped with a fireworks display.
Event details can be found at: brentwoodboro.com/fourth-of-july-celebration.

Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival

Twin Lakes Park in Greensburg — about a 45-minute drive from Pittsburgh — is the site of the Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival, a four-day event that commences on July Fourth and showcases a juried fine art and photography exhibition, an artist market featuring the work of more than 200 craftsmen and artisans from around the country, as well as entertainment, food and children’s activities.

This year marks the 45th year of the festival, which runs through July 7.

On July Fourth, a diverse range of musical acts will take the festival’s stage beginning at 11 a.m. Big band, acoustic, blues and country musicians will perform until 8 p.m., interspersed with canon firing every hour on the hour.

Various food vendors, offering a wide selection of ethnic fare, will provide refreshment. More information can be found at: artsandheritage.com.

Canonsburg July 4 Celebration

There is a lot going on in Canonsburg — a borough in Washington County about a half hour from Pittsburgh — in honor of Independence Day.

The morning commences with the 35th annual Whiskey Rebellion 5K at 7:30 a.m., followed by a parade at 10 a.m. As this year’s fete is dedicated to the memory of Canonsburg founding father Anthony L. Colaizzo, who was fond of donning a bow tie and Panama hat, attendees are encouraged to do the same.

From noon through 6 p.m., free Town Park activities include balloon animals, face painting, rock climbing and inflatables. A family swim party begins at noon.

Midday musical entertainment includes polka music, top 40 and rock. Fireworks by Zambelli Fireworks International will be launched at 10 p.m.

For more information, go to: canonsburgjuly4th.org. pjc

Toby Tabachnick can be reached at ttabachnick@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

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