Two fireworks shows in Highland County, one on Saturday and one on Sunday, will be free to area residents this weekend.
On Saturday evening the Rocky Fork Community Alliance and Rocky Fork State Park will host what’s being billed as Poppin’ and Rockin’ at the Lake from 5-11 p.m.; and on Sunday evening local businesses and the city of Hillsboro will give a fireworks show from the Highland County Fairgrounds.
Fireworks both evenings should start around dark, or about 9:30 p.m., event organizers said.
Saturday’s activities will be centered at the North Beach area at Rocky Fork Lake. There will be food including hot dogs, chips, cookies and bottled water; kids’ games; deejay music; the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District spraying water on kids from a fire truck, as long as it doesn’t have emergency runs; and face-painting. It’s all free and open to the public.
The fireworks will be launched from a peninsula at South Beach. Rocky Fork Community Alliance (RFCA) President Diane Uhl said the South Beach area will be closed to the public. She said the fireworks from Rozzi Famous Fireworks will be best viewed from the North Beach area, but should be visible from most locations around the lake.
Uhl said fireworks in previous years were provided by a private organization from private property. She said this will be the first year the RFCA and the state park, along with other sponsors, have sponsored the lake fireworks.
“We really think Rocky Fork is a huge asset to Highland County and we’d love to see the whole county take advantage of the attraction it could be,” Uhl said. “This is a way to give back to the public and bring a little more attention to the lake.”
The Highland County Veterans Honor Guard will present a flag raising ceremony at 6 p.m. at the North Beach area.
Sunday’s fireworks will be launched from the tractor pull area at the Highland County Fairgrounds in Hillsboro. But due to a required “safety zone” the main fairgrounds area will not be open. Rather, people wanting the best view of the fireworks will be able to park in the fairground’s 25-acre parking area across Fairground Road from the main fairgrounds section. The area has been freshly mowed and visitors should be bring chairs or blankets.
Chris Lewis of the Lewis Financial Group said it’s been nine years since a public fireworks display has been held in Hillsboro. He said the roughly $10,000 display of Rozzi Famous Fireworks will last about 20 minutes.
“It’s one of those things we kind of missed having in town,” Lewis said. “We were sitting around a few weeks ago and talking about how we had a fireworks display as kids and how it was one of those things we’d like to see come back. The city and the fairboard got on board and it just kind of took off from there.”
When The Times-Gazette first announced the fireworks earlier this week there were six private sponsors, plus Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings had pledged $5,000 from the city. But several other local businesses have responded to a call for more sponsors, and besides the city, the sponsors now include: the Highland County Fairboard, Little Caesars, Merchants National Bank, First State Bank, Wilmington Savings Bank, T & S Mechanical, Bear Mechanical, Barrera’s Garage, Jerry Haag Motors, Classic Real Estate, NCB Bank, Weastec, Abbott Imaging Solutions, Chris Lewis CPA, Pap’s Hilltop Honey and the Lewis Financial Group.
Lewis said there has been talk about moving the fireworks back to their longtime location at the former Hillsboro High School site off West Main Street, keeping them at the fairgrounds, and of adding some vendors for next year. But that’s all up in the air at this point.
“We’re hoping a group or somebody might jump on it and run with it next year,” Lewis said. “Right now we’re hoping everyone brings some chairs and blankets, picks out a spot, and people just relax and enjoy it.”
He said law enforcement will be patrolling the parking area.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.