Organizing the annual Eden Prairie 4th of July Hometown Celebration, which now spans two nights, requires careful planning. From picking bands and selecting a wide array of food trucks to fine-tuning the schedule, meticulous effort goes into every detail.
Jay Lotthammer, the City of Eden Prairie’s parks and recreation director, explains the importance of booking bands well in advance, especially for such a popular date as the Fourth of July.
“These bands are in high demand, so we have to secure them at least six months ahead to ensure we get the best ones,” he says.
The culmination of all that planning will be on display during the third annual Sparklefest on Monday from 6 to 9:45 p.m., and the 4th of July Hometown Celebration on Tuesday from 3 to 10 p.m. Both events will be held at Round Lake Park, 16691 Valley View Road.
Attendees can look forward to the usual lineup of activities: food, games, live music, and fireworks. But, Lotthammer said, the city amped up the number of food possibilities at both events.
“We have a dozen different trucks offering a great variety, from Mediterranean to Asian, Mexican, and even ice creams and cookie dough,” he said. “You can have a full-scale dinner if you prefer.”
Keep in mind that it will be hot with a chance of storms. Severe thunderstorms are possible for the late afternoon and evening of July 4.
“This is the worst forecast I’ve seen in my 16 hometown celebrations,” Lothammer said in an email Monday. “We’re watching the radar and forecast closely and partnering with police and fire. We’ll be putting out updates on social media if needed.”
Sparklefest returns for its third consecutive year at Round Lake Park, the event’s venue for the past two years.
Lotthammer emphasized that Sparklefest is designed with families in mind, with a particular focus on entertaining younger children through self-directed activities, including inflatables, lawn games, and Talon Robotics Team demonstrations.
Attendees can also enjoy face painting by the Eden Prairie Figure Skating Club from 6 to 9:15 p.m., participate in kids’ bingo at 6:30 p.m., join a kids’ dance DJ party at 8 p.m., and witness the fireworks display over the baseball field at 9:30 p.m.
Thirteen food trucks, including A Whale of a Treat, Café Cairo, Gray Duck Concessions, Lemon Heaven, Mi Pueblo, Pizza Karma, Soft Serve Social, Thai Thai, Unbakeable, Waffle Bar Food Truck, Weenie Wagon, and Wingman Matt, will be available starting at 6 p.m. Additionally, parents can enjoy adult beverages sold by the Eden Prairie Lions Club in collaboration with Fat Pants Brewing Co. and Unmapped Brewing Co.
“Regarding what’s new this year, the layout and orientation will be slightly different due to the new building being constructed in the park,” Lotthammer said. “So, for Sparklefest, more of the event will be oriented toward the baseball fields, including the fireworks.”
He said Sparklefest has developed a strong following over the years.
“Even that first year, I think families really appreciated coming out to an event that is for families,” he said. “It’s a lot of younger kids and doesn’t have that midway feel to it, where you’ve got older kids and bikes going fast through it. It truly has a family-friendly feel.”
Fourth of July
The community plaza at Round Lake Park opens at 3 p.m. on Independence Day, and 17 food trucks will start serving a variety of food, desserts, and beverages.
The food trucks include Bad Rooster, Café Cairo, Drew’s Concessions, Lemon Heaven, Leo’s Kitchen, Maui Wowi, Mi Pueblo, Paella Depot, Pizza Karma, Samurai Teppanyaki, Soft Serve Social, Taste the Real Nawlins’, Unbakeable, Weenie Wagon, Waffle Bar Food Truck, and Wingman Matt. (The Eden Prairie Lions Club/Fat Pants Brewing Co. and Unmapped Brewing Co. will also be offering adult beverages for sale.)
Music will kick off at 4:30 p.m. with a performance by the Minnesota-based Barley Jacks. The band is known for its fusion of blues, bluegrass, Celtic, R&B, and bebop.
At 6 p.m., the Twin Cities band Rhino takes the stage, delivering a mix of modern, alternative, 80s, and classic rock.
Following a welcome from Mayor Ron Case and the City Council at 7:45 p.m., the Free & Easy Band will perform from 8 p.m. until the scheduled start of the fireworks display at 10 p.m.
The Free & Easy Band, a returning act from last year’s celebration, describes itself as Minnesota’s premier stage band on its website. They specialize in performing a repertoire of retro and current hits, featuring artists like Stevie Wonder, Justin Bieber, Pitbull, and even a Prince medley.
Several local non-profit organizations in Eden Prairie, including Eden Prairie Local News (EPLN), will have booths or tables set up on Tuesday.
“For a second year, we’ll be emphasizing the presence of community groups,” Lotthammer said. “They will have tables and displays to recruit volunteers or showcase their offerings to the community. We want to ensure that they’re easily visible and accessible to the thousands of people attending the event.”
Parking for both Sparklefest and the Hometown Celebration is available at the Community Center, with free shuttles provided until the end of the event. Disability parking for vehicles displaying a valid permit is available at Round Lake Park, near the tennis courts.
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