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Hi-Line Living - FOOD, FUN AND PRIDE

Havre celebrates Independence Day

 

Havre Daily News/Ryan Welch

Red, white and blue were the colors of the day, while the sounds of live music mingled with the laughter and happy squeals of children, the smell of hotdogs and hamburgers wafted through the air, and almost two decades of Havre's Fourth of July community camaraderie took over Pepin Park.

The Fourth of July celebration started as a small gathering of a couple dozen people the first year, event co-founder and co-chair Allen "Woody" Woodwick said.

It included some buckets of fried chicken and music, he added.

In the second or third year of the event his brother Vince Woodwick became involved, Woody Woodwick said, and his brother was good at chasing down more people to provide food, and the event grew from there.

Woodwick's wife, Keri Woodwick, said she feels her whining helped lead to the organization of the event.

"I whined that there was nothing to do (in Havre) on the Fourth," she said, adding that she is from Lewistown where there was a big Fourth of July celebration.

Woody Woodwick said he thought that a lot of people leave Havre for the celebration, so he decided that maybe "if we did something, people will stay."

"It has developed into its own thing," he added.

Event co-chair Sherri Simonson said they have to start preparing for the event in January, getting insurance and making the park reservation. It starts getting really busy, though, a couple months before the celebration, she added, ordering the food and preparing all the final details.

The celebration now includes a flag ceremony, live music, a barbecue lunch, raffles, and kids activities, including face painting, a small obstacle course, a giant beach ball, sno-cones and balloon animals.

The flag ceremony was conducted by Havre area Scout members, including Eagle Scout John Klein, 17, of Troop 1438.

Klein said he helped direct the younger scouts during the ceremony which included a color guard and the Pledge of Allegiance.

"I love community. ... I like seeing people come together," Klein said, adding that he has probably come to the event for seven years and along with participating in the flag ceremony he enjoys volunteering serving food.

The live music included local bands, Woody Woodwick said, including All Day Music, Gina Allen and Friends, the Crawford Brothers Band, Rhonda Minnick and a throw-together performance at the end including himself, his grandson, and other local musicians.

He is thankful to all the musicians who came out to play, as well as to Arden Flansburg and his son Zack who set up all the equipment for the live performances.

Simonson was in charge of the food part of the celebration.

The event definitely seems busier than last year; probably because the Fourth is in the middle of the week, Simonson said.

Simonson said she was surprised when the Coca-Cola company showed up during the set-up and donated some soda.

They said they had done it before, she added, so they wanted to donate again this year.

This was the first year the Lions Club had full responsibility for preparing and cooking the meat for the barbecue, Simonson said.

"The Lions Club has done so much. ... They took care of it," she said, adding that a lot of the other food she ordered through the college.

Volunteering to cook the food is a good way to help the community, Lion's Club member Jerry Kuhn said.

"It is a good way to show community pride," he added.

Along with the hamburgers and hot dogs, the other dishes, which were served entirely by volunteers, were baked beans, pistachio salad, watermelon and potato chips.

This year, the kids were also able to get a tasty summer dessert in the form of sno-cones served by Pastor A.J. Jensen and members from Set Free Ministry.

Usually, the members of the ministry served sno-cones outside their church, Jensen said, but last year they noticed they didn't get many people so they decided to try it at Pepin Park.

It is a great way to show the love of Jesus, he added.

Curt Pierson made balloon animals for the kids, while Kaitlyn Boucher painted faces.

"I have been doing this since Vince was here," Boucher said, adding that she used to do it with a group of people who came out to do something art-related.

The raffle table held items that were donated along with items purchased by Simonson with money donated from the 2017 Fourth of July Celebration, volunteer Linda Johnson said.

The tickets were $1 a piece for the smaller items or baskets and $10 a ticket for two larger items- a television stand and a gas fire pit.

The turn-out is great, Havre Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jody Olson said.

Havre Daily News/Ryan Welch

"I am amazed at this town," she said, adding it is a nice event to have right in town so people don't have to drive somewhere far.

Woodwick said he wants to keep having the celebration as long as he can.

"I can't say 'thank you' enough to Sherri," he said.

She helped out so much after his brother died, Woodwick added.

Simonson, who is retiring from organizing the event, said she is happy to pass the leadership over to community members Judy Corner and Christi Marsh.

Woodwick said he is very happy to see how much the event has grown and new people have gotten involved.

"I want to see more young people here," he added.

 

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