It takes much to plan a hometown celebration. But, after booking the bands, selecting the food trucks, and finalizing the schedule, organizers still need a little help from Mother Nature.
Jay Lotthammer, the City of Eden Prairie’s parks and recreation director, has his fingers crossed that the weather will cooperate for the city’s 4th of July Hometown Celebration spread over three days and two locations this holiday weekend.
The early weather forecast looks promising.
“That’s what they’re telling us now,” Lotthammer said. “Hopefully, it doesn’t change.”
There is good reason for all in Eden Prairie to glance hopefully at the skies for this All-American celebration that offers its share of patriotic fun.
Lotthammer expects Monday’s Independence Day festivities to attract about 8,000-10,000 residents to the friendly confines of Round Lake Park, 16691 Valley View Road, culminating with fireworks at 10 p.m.
“Coming out of COVID, any time we have had an outdoor event, we’ve seen record numbers of people so we expect this will be well attended,” he said.
Outdoor concert, Sparklefest
The city’s hometown celebration begins with a free outdoor concert called Strike Up the Band: A Military Salute from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, July 1, at Staring Lake Amphitheatre, 14800 Pioneer Trail.
The Eden Prairie Community Band and Jazz on the Prairie Big Band will play some patriotic favorites. Local veterans and active military will be saluted for their service.
Two nights later, Sparklefest returns for its second year, this time at Round Lake Park. From 6-10 p.m. Sunday, July 3, the free kid-friendly event offers such activities as a DJ dance party, hands-on art stations, inflatables, lawn games, and street art. Various food trucks will also be on hand (many will be back the next night at the July 4 festivities).
“This is intended to be a very family friendly part of the event and really focused on younger kids,” Lotthammer said.
At the end of it, he said there is a 5-to-7-minute kid-friendly, mini-fireworks display that isn’t as big, loud or as long as the one the next night.
“As a family, if you just wanted to have a little more of a low-key night but still experience the fireworks, we start them a little bit sooner than the ones on the Fourth of July, then Round Lake is a great place to come (for Sparklefest),” he said.
It was at Staring Lake Park last year. “But, because of the ability to have the stage set up and ready to go at Round Lake for the Fourth, we said let’s move it over to Round Lake,” he said.
Fourth of July
On Independence Day, the hometown celebration continues at Round Lake Park from 3 to 10 p.m., though the beach opens at 11 a.m.
At 3 p.m., the community plaza officially opens and 16 food trucks open for business, selling various food, desserts and beverages. These include Cookie Dough Bliss and Creamery, Lemon Heaven, Red’s Savoy, Westrums, Cafe Cairo, Soft Serve Social, Wingman Matt, Thai Thai, Maui Wowi, Muddy Tiger, and the Eden Prairie Lion’s Club/Fat Pants Brewery.
Lotthammer said the city “elevated” the number of food trucks at both Sparklefest and the July 4 celebration, but also the quality of the food offered.
“(Sparklefest) will be a little bit more towards the hot dog and lemonade and kids’ ice cream, but there will still be some pizza and Mexican street food and Meditaranean food, some Greek and Egyptian, and both will be there the 3rd and 4th,” he said. “But on the Fourth we add even more food trucks into the mix, to hopefully encourage people to come hungry and experience more of a food truck plaza experience.”
Lotthammer said Round Lake Park would be an excellent place for families and neighbors to gather and listen to music during the late afternoon and early evening on the Fourth of July.
Both bands performing on July 4 are making their EP Hometown Celebration debut.
Music begins at 6:30 p.m. from the Brian Kinney Band. The band, according to its website, “soulfully” crosses the musical spectrum of R&B, jazz, swing, rock, funk, Latin, reggae and more.
After a welcome from Mayor Ron Case and the City Council at 7:45 p.m., the Free & Easy Band takes the stage at 8 p.m. until the fireworks begin at 10 p.m.
The Free & Easy Band bills itself as Minnesota’s premiere stage band. It plays retro and current hits from such artists as Stevie Wonder, Justin Bieber, Pitbull, and a Prince medley.
Many local Eden Prairie non-profit organizations, including EPLN, will have a booth or table set up on Monday. Other groups featured include Writers Risings Up, the Eden Prairie Community Foundation, and Eden Prairie Women of Today.
At both Sparklefest and the July 4 festivities, people can bring a reusable water bottle and fill up on water for free at the city’s new hydration station.
Parking is available at the Community Center and Eden Prairie High School. A complimentary shuttle bus will pick up and drop off people at the Community Center near the digital sign board.
Parking for vehicles with a valid disability parking placard is located at the tennis court lot at Round Lake Park. Those spaces are available on a first-come basis.
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