Saturday was a day to celebrate community and freedom for the City of Neosho.

Saturday was a day to celebrate community and freedom for the City of Neosho.

The city hosted its annual Celebrate Neosho event, offering a fireworks display and air show to Neosho residents, as well as a day filled with activities.

"We try to go all out for the community and really make it a celebration of community and a celebration of family because it is a family event," said the city's public relations and events coordinator Wes Franklin. "It's just something we like to offer the citizens of Neosho and the surrounding community. Just to give them something to do that doesn't cost them a lot, or any, money."

The highlights of the evening took place at Neosho's Hugh Robinson Memorial Airport, when local pilot Kyle Franklin took to the skies for his aerobatic performance, which was followed shortly after by a 15 minute fireworks display.

Kyle Franklin, who has lived in Neosho and been performing since 1997, said he enjoys performing for his home audience.

"It's always great to be home at the hometown airport and get to fly for a lot of people that get to see me practice every now and then, and now get to see the full fledged show," Kyle Franklin said.

Hundreds gathered along the runway at twilight Saturday, with their faces pointed to the sky as Franklin put on a show in his new "Dracula" biplane.

"It's a vampire themed act," Franklin said. "It's a lot of maneuvers from the 1930s and 1940s mixed with a lot of modern day things, and that was the whole goal behind building this one of a kind airplane."

Earlier in the evening, Kyle Franklin entertained event goers with a flour bombing, as he aimed to hit a red barrel on the ground with a sack of flour.

He said entertaining his fans is one of his main reasons for flying.

"I do this primarily because I love to entertain and I love my fans," Kyle Franklin said. "My family's been doing air shows for over 46 years, I'm third generation and it's just what I love to do. I love to entertain and try to inspire younger kids to get out and fly, they don't necessarily have to fly like me, but just to generate some interest in flying."

The evening ended with an All-American fireworks show from AM Pyrotechnics of Buffalo, Mo.

Prior to the fireworks lighting up the sky, country gospel singer Theo Mason performed the National Anthem.

Celebrate Neosho was an all-day affair, beginning at 7:30 a.m. with a 5K run in Morse Park.

Wes Franklin said 80 participants completed the race.

The marathon was followed by a free kids fishing derby on Hickory Creek.

Poles were provided by the Friends of the Neosho National Fish Hatchery, while Grandpa's Hunting and Fishing Shop provided the bait.

Wes Franklin said 120 kids participated in the fishing event.

The day's events continued in Morse Park from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. with the Picnic in the Park.

The afternoon included several old-fashioned games, including wheelbarrow and sack races, an egg toss, and a giant sprinkler made from a Neosho Fire Department fire hose.

"A lot of the kids didn't even know what those games were, we had to actually explain what a crab race is, or a wheelbarrow race, because they just had never heard of that before," Wes Franklin said. "But once they started playing those games and getting involved in it they all seemed to have a great time."

The Neosho airport was also home to a Battle of the Bands, sponsored by AMI Radio Group.

Pit 42, a rock group from Columbus, Kan. was named the winner among the four performers.

The airport was also filled with more than 50 vendors, including a children's carnival.

Wes Franklin said he is already looking forward to next year's Celebrate Neosho event.

"I already have some ideas," he said. "It's something I'd like to build on for next year."