If you’re going
• The city of Cumming’s July 4 festivities begin at 6 p.m. Sunday with vendors, kids activities and live music
• Dance contest: 8:30 p.m.
• Fireworks show: 9:30 p.m.
• Where: Cumming Fairgrounds,
235 Castleberry Road
• Cost: Free
• 59th annual Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade gets rolling at 10 a.m. Monday
• Where: Tribble Gap/Castleberry roads, beginning at Forsyth Central High School and ending at the Cumming Fairgrounds
• Cost: Free
• BBQ and Turtle Race
• Where: The Foster House,
305 W. Main St.
• When: 1 p.m. Monday, registration begins at noon; food sold 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Forsyth County may be growing at a high rate that makes the land look unlike it did in the past, but the area remains steeped in tradition. And this holiday weekend will not shy away from the annual festivities.
The Cumming Fairgrounds will host the city’s annual Independence Day celebration, beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Dave Horton, director of the fairgrounds, said the summer event is the biggest single-day event the city puts on.
“We’ll have 28, 30,000 at the fair [in one day], but that’s from 10 a.m. to midnight. For the fireworks, they’re all here at one time,” Horton said. “It’s pretty much elbow to elbow in here.”
The free event will have vendors, a kids zone with inflatables, food and entertainment from Andrew Black at 7:30 p.m.
A change this year comes with the annual dance contest.
“Historically in the past we’ve always done it after the fireworks at 10 o’clock. With kids going to bed early, a lot of families are leaving after the fireworks,” Horton said.
The contest, which begins at 8:30 p.m., is open to all ages.
“[Ages] generally range from 2-3 years old to 80-plus,” he said.
The fireworks show will start at 9:30 p.m. and typically lasts about 20-25 minutes.
“It’s pretty much rain or shine. We’ll wait for a window if we have to, but there’s not really a rain date,” Horton said.
The display can be seen from anywhere within the fairgrounds. Horton said he expects about 20,000-25,000 people to attend the event.
“There’s huge crowds not just here but all over town. Everywhere there’s asphalt. Shopping centers and businesses around town. They can see at least all the high-level shots. There’s a crowd of folks all over town that never actually come here on the grounds,” Horton said.
He said predictions for the total number of people who watch the fireworks show are between 60,000 and 75,000.
“The majority [of the attendees] are local, but we do have quite a few that come from outside [Forsyth],” he said. “And because we do our on July 3, they will come here even if they’re Hall County or Dawson and then they catch another show in their county or nearby on the fourth.
“A lot of folks are bio-technic nuts.”
He said people can bring coolers and their own food and drinks, though alcohol is not allowed.”
Parking lots and the two parking decks typically fill up around 8:30 p.m., Horton said, and people who arrive later usually end up parking at Forsyth Central High School and walking over.
Festivities do not stop after the fireworks finale, though they will take a respite for the night.
The annual Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade will fill the streets downtown for the 59th year on Monday.
The procession, which begins at 10 a.m., generally lasts about one or two hours, said Amy Webb, an organizer of the parade.
Beginning at Central, about 20-30 steam engines, Cumming Major H. Ford Gravitt and local veterans will lead the floats down Tribble Gap Road to the fairgrounds.
Web said about 100 entries are in this year’s lineup.
She said though it is hard to count, estimates are that about 10,000 people line the streets for the procession.
She suggested parents bring earplugs or earmuffs for children or anyone who may not like the loud noises coming from the steam engines.
The main safety issue, she said, is keeping children from running past the ropes into the street to collect candy that falls short.
“My great-granddaddy, Glen Thomas — I used to call him Daddy Glen — he rode a steam engine around the square, and people followed him around on their bikes,” said Webb’s husband, Richard Webb.
The next year, the Mashburn family joined the Thomas family, and three steam engines rode around the square. And people followed on bikes.
The year after that, the local radio station broadcast the procession, saying everybody in town was there.
“He said there were more people than there were, but the next year, they all showed up,” Richard Webb said.
And so birthed the steam engine parade tradition.
It’s a good way to get out and celebrate our independence. The heritage Forsyth County has here for doing this parade for so long, it’s always been about continuing the tradition,” Amy Webb said. “It’s very family-oriented. With all the changes you see today in Forsyth County, it’s a cool thing to see a tradition like this continue through the years.”