iowa fireworks

Ways to Celebrate the Fourth of July

Regardless of where you visit in Iowa, the state always boasts a charming, small-town feel. And in no season is that more apparent than during the weeks and days leading up to Independence Day. Midwest expert Kim, of Oh My! Omaha, shares some of the best ways to celebrate the Fourth of July in Iowa this year.

Every year, people from all over the state flock to North Iowa for Clear Lake’s July 4th Celebration. The pristine lake acts as a gorgeous backdrop for a full six-day event which begins on the evening of June 30 with a carnival. Community-driven activities continue on for several days, leading into Independence Day itself–where attendees can celebrate the holiday with spirited games, live concert music, concessions and more.

While the six-day celebration is pretty remarkable in Clear Lake, Cedar Rapids takes marking the occasion to a whole new level–in the form of a three-week celebration, to be more specific. The Freedom Festival, which hosts around 400,000 people in total when it’s all said and done, boasts eclectic events ranging in everything from a flag retirement ceremony and wood carving competition, to a county fair, balloon glow, car show and a parade. Plus, the event tops off with a spectacular firework showcase on July 4 that can be seen and enjoyed pretty much anywhere in the Cedar Rapids area.

On July 4 each year, nearly 500 fireworks light up the night sky over Storm Lake, as the city plays host to nearly 20,000 people to mark the unforgettable occasion. The Star Spangled Spectacular, which takes place on July 3 to July 4, is ridden with fireworks, carnival antics and local fare from some of the area’s most beloved vendors.

Moving into the Des Moines area, the Urbandale 4th of July Celebration spans over three days, and festival-goers are treated to rides, street dancing, food and shopping vendors, along with a parade set to take place at 10 a.m. on July 4 at the Old City Hall.

And for as much flair as Independence Day in Iowa boasts, there are also plenty of events which allow locals to tap into the history of the big day. At Living History Farms in Urbandale, people can celebrate the occasion via an old-fashioned baseball game on July 3. Visitors can also enjoy vintage games, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, a traveling medicine show, and the 1800s baseball game at 3 p.m. 

In Dubuque, the 35th annual Fireworks and Air Show Spectacular fills the skies over the  Mississippi River from July 1 through July 4, and the US Army Golden Knights parachute team will drop from the sky to kick things off on July 1.

Finally, Arnold’s Park Amusement Park is a great source of family-friendly entertainment year-round. But on July 4, visitors to the lot can enjoy carnival-esque activities, picnicking, and an unforgettable firework display at Preservation Plaza to cap the weekend off!

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