The first city-supported Fourth of July celebration in Searcy in around 15 years will “definitely be the largest event Beats and Eats has ever thrown,” said Mat Faulkner, one of the three directors of the committee that holds street festivals in the downtown area.
The celebration, called “United We Stand” and funded by revenue from Searcy’s advertising and promotions tax, will take place from 6-10 p.m July 4, which is on a Sunday, at the Searcy Events Center, 1306 Higginson St.
“First of all, I have to give kudos to the Searcy A&P Commission because this is the first time that the Beats and Eats Committee has received funding from the A&P,” Faulkner said. “They allocated $45,000 toward this event, which is just a huge blessing and a help because this event will definitely be the largest event Beats and Eats has ever thrown. We are used to throwing the downtown kind of street festivals that are a lot smaller.
“With their support, it allowed us to consider bringing in bigger talent from Nashville because the intent is to attract not just Searcy residents but also the surrounding area, so being able to have a Nashville headliner allows us to do that.”
Country music singer Elvie Shane will be the headlining act. Shane, who competed on “American Idol” in 2016, released his debut single “My Boy” in 2020. The song has charted on Country Airplay, reaching the top 40 by early 2021.
Faulkner said lights and sound will be a big production done by Crown Entertainment.
Opening for Shane will be Cliff and Susan, “an Arkansas favorite,” Faulkner said, a 6 p.m. “They do a lot of cover songs and they are really great about engaging with the public.” Then, following a 30-minute transition, Shane will perform before the fireworks show, which is something Mayor Kyle Osborne said the city has received a “lot of requests for” over the last year.
“I think it’s a great thing for the city,” Osborne said of the Fourth of July event. “We have had a lot of positive feedback once it became public that we were going to do it and I’m extremely proud of the city and the A&P Commission for doing this.
“We will do everything we can do to have it looking extremely good out there.”
Faulkner said the Beats and Eats Committee really wanted to have a unique event because there are a lot of Fourth of July options. “We wanted to do something that was special for Searcy.”
The event will include a Fun Zone for children, two tethered hot air balloon rides and an exotic animals petting zoo. Circus performers and rides also will be available.
In the Fun Zone, Faulkner said there will be a two-person gyroscope ride, a Zorb ball track and a huge waterslide. Since the event is in July, he said the committee is anticipating that the weather will be very hot.
There is limited availability of Fun Zone passes, hot air balloon rides and event T-shirts and tank tops. Advance Fun Zone passes are $5 and can be purchased through hardingtickets.universitytickets.com Hot air balloon advance tickets are $20 and can be purchased on the same site.
“We are also going to have a merchant row, so we will have up to 30 merchant/vendors supporting our local entrepreneurs and about 10 food trucks will be out there,” Faulkner said. “We are working with local youth groups to have yard games set up throughout the space. People can play things like corn hole, volleyball and things like that, just kind of like you’re at a tailgate party.”
He said because the event is being held at the events center, there also will be plenty of space to spread out for social distancing due to COVID-19. Those attending are being asked to bring their lawn chairs and blankets.
Faulkner said spraying will be done for mosquitos and the city is providing electrical hookups to all the vendors. Those wanting to be a food truck merchant may inquire at www.eventbrite.com/e/july-4united-we-stand.
“Hopefully we won’t have as much rain as we have had recently and it will be nice and dry so it will be good to walk around,” Faulkner said.
The fireworks show “will probably be kicked off around 9:30 p.m,” he said. “It should last a good 20-25 minutes are so.”
A veterans salute also is planned, with the medical helicopter from Unity Health doing a flyover with the American flag.
Separate from the A&P-funded program will be a community worship service at the events center that starts at 5 p.m., Faulkner said. David Bunting from New Life Church is facilitating the service that will last about 45 minutes with worship music and some speakers. Representatives from other Searcy area churches also be taking part.