It’s almost time to don your red, white and blue clothing and bring the family to celebrate the United States’ 243rd birthday in Stanardsville. This is the fourth annual free Red, White, Blue in Greene event.
“If you want to see Americana, mom and apple pie, you need to be here,” said Stanardsville Mayor Gary Lowe, who is also a member of the Stanardsville Independence Day Committee (SIDC). “I mean, that’s what it’s all about.”
SIDC Chairman Michael Payne cautions new people to the area to not let this event pass them by.
“We have so many new people in the area that think ‘Oh, it’s smalltown Stanardsville it’s going to be a flop’—no it’s not. Anywhere from 4,500-7,800 have attended in the past and our fireworks display is the quality of 30-minute finale,” Payne said. “And that’s a big thing; it’s not just a few flares that go up and then a finale, it’s a finale through the entire show.”
“I go to a lot of [these events] and this one is the best,” said Chad Aylor, who performs in a regional band.
“I had people coming up to me at the Strawberry Festival saying our fireworks were far better than Richmond and Charlottesville,” he said.
New this year are shuttles to take people from the handicapped parking to the football field, sponsored by Olive’s Grill in Ruckersville and Miranda’s restaurant in Madison County.
One big change to this year’s event is the parade start time. Previously, the day was broken up with a morning parade and evening fireworks. In an effort to streamline the day, especially for the volunteers, the parade will begin at 5:30 p.m.—taking the same route from the schools up Main Street and around court square.
What started as a small community parade down Main Street has grown into a massive celebration with local bands, vendors, charities and one of the best fireworks shows in Central Virginia—if not the best. Yet, it’s still put on by a small group of volunteers and they need help.
“We have 11 people in this room who are very passionate. It’s about 60- people worth of work,” said Michael Payne, SIDC chairman. “Being a keyboard warrior is not enough. To say you want something is just that you said it. You need to be prepared to put some skin in the game and make it real. A small group has continued to make something really awesome.”
SIDC Vice Chair Kris Rulison said having new volunteers the day of the event is needed, but having some throughout the yearlong planning is desired.
“The sky’s the limit with this event. We’ve not yet run out of space,” Rulison said. “For the people who want to come in and put some sweat in the game the sky’s the limit on what we can do. That’s the good thing about this group—new people come and bring new ideas and improve things.”
Mariana Bennett said that’s a good reason to volunteer, but not the only reason.
“Volunteering is a great way to meet people, to support the community and to support the businesses,” she said. “You get more out of it than you put in it.”
The University of Virginia Health Systems’ Pegasus helicopter is expected to make a visit, weather and duty permitting.
Lydia Station will kick off the music that Thursday followed by Cheap Whiskey and Groove Train.
“Everybody starts dancing with the bands on stage,” said volunteer Bill Fekishazy. “Everybody is out there on the football field as a community. It’s not me and you and us and them.”
Stanardsville resident Bert Nye will again sing the National Anthem.
“As much as this is about the celebration it’s also about celebrating Bishop Michael Jackson as our grand marshal,” Payne said. “He does so much for the community.”
He added that those charities that used to make money from the fair can still get a spot in this year’s July 4th event selling food.
“We’re here for the community; we just need the community to be here for us,” Payne said. “I think they have, yes, and I think we get a great deal of support on social media but I’d love to see more support in these seats and more support when it comes to the day of operations. Writing something is not the same as doing something.”
“It’s sad to say but we’ve become the charity calling cause of some of these social media warriors recently about why don’t we support Red, White, Blue in Greene,” he said. “While we can always use more money, money is not our number one problem right now. It’s volunteers. The negative stuff takes the wind out of the current set of volunteers we have right now.”
“We’re the little engine that could,” Payne said. “If they can’t come to help, we hope they’ll come to enjoy.”
Donations are tax-deductible as contributions to the Town of Stanardsville and may be made on line at www. stanardsville.org on the Fourth of July page, or mailed to the Town of Stanardsville, P.O. Box 152, Stanardsville, Va. 22973.
Those wishing to become vendors should visit www.rwbng.org or visit @RWBnG on Facebook. The Facebook page is monitored but won’t be the day of the event so ask questions early, Payne said.
The event parking and admission will be free and no alcohol is allowed at the event.
“The work is not hard; there’s a lot of it,” Payne said. “We have fun doing it and we’d love to make new friends.”
Lowe added, “We’re a small town but it’s a big party.”