At a glance
Cumming’s July Fourth festivities:
• Vendors and family activities begin at 6 p.m.
• The band Feedback begins playing at 7:30 p.m.
• Fireworks display starts at 9:30 p.m.
• Dance contest after fireworks, about 10 p.m.
Along Tribble Gap Road in downtown
• 54th Annual Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade begins at 10 a.m.
• Foster House turtle race follows at 1 p.m.
Cumming leaders are ready for big crowds Sunday night as the annual July Fourth festivities kick off.
Dave Horton, director of the Cumming Fairgrounds, said preparations were "coming along pretty well."
"Looks like we’ve got a pretty good amount of vendors, looks like about 35," he said.
Vendors begin selling their wares at 6 p.m. Sunday in the fairgrounds off Castleberry Road near downtown.
There are also a number of family activities, such as inflatables, face painting and rock climbing walls, as well as live music from the band Feedback, which takes the stage at 7:30 p.m.
The activities lead up to the fairgrounds’ annual fireworks display, which is set to begin at 9:30 p.m.
Horton said the event is one of the biggest of the year in Cumming, and the days leading up to it are always hectic.
"We’ve gotten a lot of calls asking when the fireworks are and wanting to know when they can come and set up," he said Friday. "The phones have been crazy the past couple of days, so if that’s any indication, it should be very successful."
Horton said the event typically draws about 25,000 people to the fairgrounds, as well as another probably 40,000 to 50,000 around town.
"Because of the community coming together and coming out to celebrate, it’s always a good time," he said.
Following the fireworks display, there will be a dance contest.
Horton said that’s always a big draw for folks wanting to strut their stuff.
"We always have a pretty good crowd when the contest starts," he said. "They’ll be doing anything to catch the eye of the judges."
He said the contest draws "a lot of really good dancers."
"And it truly is for all ages," he added. "I’ve seen them from 3 or 4 years old all the way to their early 80s."
Monday brings more patriotic fun with the annual Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade.
The procession begins its route along Tribble Gap Road at 10 a.m., traveling from near Forsyth Central High School to the fairgrounds.
The parade has been a tradition in Cumming for more than 50 years.
Gerald Blackburn, city administrator of Cumming, said he lived just a street away from the parade route when it started 54 years ago.
"So we ended up being a part of it whether we wanted to be or not," he joked. "I’ve been to them and been in them ever since they started, and they’ve been loud since the beginning."
He was referring to the lumbering steam engines, for which the parade gets its name.
Ear plugs are a must for parade-goers due to the engines, which reflect Forsyth’s agricultural roots. Each one makes a roaring whistling noise.
Besides the engines, there are also a number of church and children’s groups that take part each year. Veterans and public service groups, as well as elected officials, among others, also join in.
After the parade, festivities continue at 1 p.m. at the Foster House restaurant downtown with the annual turtle race.
The restaurant has been holding the event for the past nine years.
Children of all ages are invited to bring their pet turtles out.
Overall, the city makes the most of the nation’s birthday.
"It’s just a fun couple of days and a good time to get together," said Blackburn, noting his children and grandchildren all take part in the annual festivities.
"It’s just a good time. We eat a little barbecue and some watermelon, see the fireworks and the parade and let the ship sail itself for a while."