Our Favorite County Fairs and Firework Displays Across the U.S.A.
BY MAIREAD KELLY
Looking to pair your Independence Day festivities with carousels, corn dogs, and love of local community? We’ve got you covered. Here are our favorite county fairs and local firework displays for celebrating July 4th across the U.S.A.
Enjoy rides, food, and games before the skies shine bright. Image courtesy of Napa County Fair
Just under two hours from Golden Gate City lies the Napa County Fair and Fireworks. The festivities kick off with a parade through downtown Calistoga. At 11 am, cheer on floats, dancers, horses, and more as they travel down Cedar Street, Lincoln Avenue, and Fair Way. Feel free to join the traveling party and follow along with the marching band until you arrive at the entryway to the Star-Spangled Social. Gates open at noon along with a carnival, food, games, and music.
From here, make your way to the grass infield to claim your firework viewing spot. You can BYOP (bring your own picnic), or reserve your Fried Chicken Picnic Party Pack ahead and pick it up at the gate. Stay busy until the big show with hula-hoop contests, an ice cream “churnament,” and more. The fair’s Firework Sky Concert will start when it gets good and dark.
New York City
The Gruccis—known as “America's First Family of Fireworks”—continue the tradition of illuminating experiences. Image courtesy of Fireworks by Grucci
Zip a mere 35 minutes from downtown NYC for the fifth annual Jersey City Freedom and Fireworks Festival. This year, Jersey City’s 4th of July Experience continues to expand its annual daylong, outdoor celebration on the Hudson River waterfront with a full-scale carnival, award-winning entertainment, and all kinds of food trucks. Entry is free!
The day culminates with an extraordinary pyrotechnic performance by Grucci, a sixth-generation, family-owned and operated fireworks company, set against a stunning backdrop of the striking Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island skyline. Be sure to download the Fireworks by Grucci app to hear music set to the fireworks display.
If cycling’s your thing, get to the Catonsville 4th of July Parade and Fireworks by 8:30 am to participate in the community’s fourth annual CRTT bike ride to Fort McHenry. And if you have kiddos in tow, stop by Catonsville High School’s athletic fields at 9:30 am, where children of all ages can take part in classic games like egg races, leapfrog, a water balloon toss, and more.
As the day goes on, so does the local parade, with a whopping 12 marching bands hitting the streets at 3 pm. Around sunset, prepare for celebratory pyrotechnics with live music and food vendors. As the fireworks begin, you’ll see the Catonsville July 4th Committee’s tribute to America’s fallen heroes through an opening fireworks display followed by a moment of silence. From here, it’s on to what Catonsville residents call, “the best fireworks display in the region.”
Fireworks in the sky, meet star power on stage. Image courtesy of Lake Forest Festival and Fireworks
Drive just 45 minutes from Chicago to the North Shore for Lake Forest Festival and Fireworks. Gates open at 5 pm, and the fun starts an hour later when Chicago classic rock favorites hit the stage with 1980s glam band fair.
Treat yourself to local food and beverages (or save some cash by bringing your own) before the North Shore skies are filled with booming fireworks. Tickets are $15 for Lake Bluff and Lake Forest residents and $20 for non-residents. It’s the perfect evening for a Zipster looking to picnic under the stars.
For a historic and classic fireworks display, get cozy in New England.
Looking for a laidback New England celebration? Head to historic Marblehead, a quaint seaside town just 30 minutes north of Boston. After taking in the sunset, watch as flares are lit around the perimeter of Marblehead Harbor, creating a magnificent ring of light that sets the stage for the main event: the Marblehead Harbor Illumination.
At 9 pm, fireworks will be launched from a barge at the mouth of the harbor. Stake out a bench, or bring a blanket and find a spot in Chandler Hovey Park to watch the lights over Marblehead Light Tower, or settle in on a patch of grass at Fort Sewall or Crocker Park.