On Saturday, the City of Neosho will host the city’s annual Celebrate Neosho event, a day filled with fun, food, and fireworks.

While some of the highlights of last year’s event will return this year — including an air performance and fireworks show – the city has also added a few new attractions to this year’s Independence Day celebration.

Wes Franklin, the city’s public relations and events coordinator and the organizer of this year’s celebration, said the city budgeted $15,000 for Celebrate Neosho this year, the same amount that was allocated for the event in 2012.

However, with some increased costs, and the city’s desire to again offer an air performance, organizers had to get creative in making the dollars stretch to offer a day filled with community activities.

“We wanted to continue on last year’s success but to do that, some of those expenses were higher, specifically in regards to the air show,” Franklin said, noting that last year’s show drew an approximate 5,000 spectators.

The event funding comes from the city’s hotel/motel tax fund, and two of the biggest expenses are the air show, offered by Franklin’s Flying Circus, at $8,500, and the fireworks display, from AM Pyrotechnics, for $4,969.54.

To cut costs, the city cut the car show from this year’s event, as last year’s show had some expenses associated with it; found a unique alternative to paying for entertainment, by instead hosting a battle of the bands show at no cost to the city; and by offering an old-fashioned picnic in the park, complete with free activities such as sack and three-legged races, instead of paying for a carnival service during the day.

The city also turned to the community to ask for additional support to fund the day’s activities.

“We had the air act covered, but to do everything else that we wanted to do and that folks expected, we had to ask the community for some help, and we’ve just had an overwhelming response from them,” Franklin said.

He said the city has received more than $5,000 in monetary and in-kind donations.

Because of the community response, the city is able to offer an “All-American” fireworks show this year, with fireworks made in Buffalo, Mo.

“The community stepped forward and we got those sponsorships, so we’re having our All-American fireworks show,” Franklin said. “I think it’s awesome that the fireworks are manufactured right here in Missouri. It’s great the community wanted to help us with that in order to have that show.”

The fireworks show will kick off at the Neosho airport at dark. Franklin expects it to start about 9:30 and last around 20 minutes.

The show will be preceded by what many consider the highlight of the night.
At twilight, Neosho native Kyle Franklin will entertain with his air show, expected to last 15-20 minutes.

Last year’s air act was performed by Matt Younkin, and was a night act.
“It’ll be a different show than last year,” Franklin said. “But I hope it will be the same quality show as last year, I think it will.”

Celebrate Neosho will kick off at 7:30 a.m., with events running most of the day, and wrapping up with the fireworks display that night. The following is a complete schedule for the day’s activities.

• 5K Run/Walk -  Starting at 7:30 a.m. at the soccer fields in Morse Park, this event requires a $15 registration fee prior to Saturday, or a $20 fee the day of the event. To register, download the form from the city’s website, www.neoshomo.org, or stop by city hall. The path of the 5K will head north from the soccer fields to the end of the walking trail and back again. First, second and third place trophies will be given for top finishers in all age divisions.

• Kids Fishing Derby – Free and open to children of all ages, the kids fishing derby runs from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. on the east bank of Hickory Creek in Morse Park, near the walking bridge and across from the ballfields. No pre-registration is required and no supplies are needed, as the Neosho National Fish Hatchery will provide fishing poles and Grandpa’s Hunting and Fishing Shop is providing the bait. A cleaning station will be set up for those who want to take their fish home and will be run by Beth Persons and the Friends of the Neosho National Fish Hatchery. The city is asking that the young anglers follow Missouri fishing regulations, which requires the fishermen to have a trout stamp if they want to keep the fish they catch. If the children do not plan to keep their catches, they do not require a stamp, unless over the age of 16. Those 16 and older should get a fishing license for catch and release.

• Picnic in the Park – From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Morse Park, across from the ballfields, will be filled with old-fashioned games, including sack races, wheelbarrow races, three-legged races, tug-of-war, and a watermelon seed spitting contest. The Neosho Fire Department will also try to offer a giant sprinkler for children to run through, by using a firehose. Little League games will also be going nearby, and the Little League will be offering concessions. Attendees are also invited to bring a blanket and a picnic lunch to enjoy the community gathering.

• Airport events – At 5 p.m. the gates to the Neosho airport will open to the public. The airport will be the site of more than 50 food and craft vendors, a battle of the bands, and later in the evening, the air performance and fireworks display.

There is no admittance fee.

This year, Franklin said the food vendors offer more variety, as each main item was only allowed to be sold by one vendor which, he said, resulted in plenty of options for attendees to choose from.

The airport’s activities will also include pony rides and inflatable rides from Mike’s Amusements, though tickets will be sold for a small fee.

Calvary Baptist Church of Neosho will also offer kids games.

Franklin said there will also be a performance from a local dance studio, and the Neosho Little League will be on hand to announce tournament winners.

• Battle of the Bands – The evening’s musical entertainment is set to begin at 5:30 p.m. , and is sponsored by AMI Radio Group, at no cost to the city. The prize for the winning band will be a professional music video from Union City Studios. Most of the sound equipment for the musical show is being provided by Cornerstone Bible Church, of Neosho.

• Franklin’s Flying Airshow – Kyle Franklin will perform at twilight, around 8:30 p.m., in his new biplane “Dracula,” which is in its first season. The performance is expected to last 15-20 minutes. Earlier in the evening, around 5:30 p.m., local pilots will participate in a flour bombing and spot landing competition at the airport.

• Fireworks display – The fireworks show is set to kick off around 9:30 p.m. and run about 20 minutes. Franklin said though parking will be available at the airport, he recommends arriving early to get a close spot.

For more information on this year’s Celebrate Neosho event, please contact Franklin at 451-8050.