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Grills, concerts, races part of 2003 festivities

The 2003 Freedom on the River festival has been expanded to three days of events on July 3-5 in Demopolis.

The festival offers "a good time, good music and family fun" for people in the greater Demopolis area, said event director Stephen Gutshall. "There will be a lot of new and exciting things this year," particularly more vendors for kids. Children can enjoy a parade on both July 3 and 4.

Admission is affordable at $5 for both the Best Burger competition July 3 or the Steve Forbert concert July 5.

A special patriotic parade is planned for 4 p.m. on July 3. All area veterans, Boy and Girl Scouts members of National Guard units, and members of area civic organizations are asked to participate. Already scheduled to participate is the Demopolis Fire Department, the WIN 98 Oldies Band, Rebecca Roemen (Miss Judson College), and members of the Pilot Club and the Demopolis Middle School Cheerleaders.

Congressman Artur Davis will participate, and Demopolis Mayor Austin Caldwell as well as members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the 2003 state champion Demopolis High School softball team will be honored.

The parade will begin at the Demopolis Board of Education building at the corner of Pettus and Cedar. The route will run from Cedar to Decatur to Strawberry to Washington to Walnut to Capitol then to Commissioners and end at the City Landing.

Congressman Davis will speak to the public at approximately 5 p.m. at the City Landing as the parade ends.

VFW officials are asking veterans who participate in the parade to wear caps or clothing to identify their veteran status. The parade will stop at Demopolis City Hall for a flag ceremony. Bleachers will be set up at City Hall in a place of honor for veterans who wish to attend the flag ceremony but not walk in the parade.

The annual "Best Burger" competition will be held at 6:30 p.m. on July 3 at the City Landing Ball Field. Applications for cooking teams are still being accepted. Teams already scheduled include Commercial Bank, the Demopolis Rotary Club, Robertson Banking Company, Southern Tank Leasing, Foster Farms and the Two Rivers Arts Council.

The entry fee for cooking teams is $25. There will four judges at the competition.

There will also be live music at the Best Burger event including the Chad Hall Experiment at 6:30 p.m., Chevy 6 at 9 p.m. and Paul Garner and Boyd Duckett at 11 p.m. Musical performer Captain John will present his nautical songs throughout the evening.

There will be a host of games for children at the event. "Kids will have something to do while mom and dad are listening to music," Gutshall said. Some samples of burger entries may be available to the public, and there will also be food vendors on hand. Don’t miss those fried Oreos.

Admission is $5 for Best Burger; children age 12 and under are admitted free.

In case of rain, the Best Burger competition and live music will be held in the Demopolis Civic Center.

The annual fireworks display will be held at 8:30 p.m. on July 4 at the City Landing. However, there are many other events also planned for July 4.

The Marengo County Historical Society will sponsor Children’s Day July 4 at Bluff Hall in conjunction with Freedom on the River.

Come out and enjoy food, fun and games from 4 to 6 p.m. for ages three to 12. There will be lawn bowling, a water gun shooting gallery, fun photos, fishing in the fountain, popcorn, lemonade and more. All games are just 25 cents.

At 6:30 p.m. there will be a Children’s Patriotic Parade down Commissioners Avenue. Children should begin lining up in front of Bluff Hall at 6 with their bike decorated in red, white, and blue or their wagon or their trike, or even a stroller or a big wheel. Prizes will be given for best in age groups three to five, six to nine, and 10-12.

There will also be gospel singing (4 p.m.) and the Great Duck Race (5 p.m.). Ducks can be sponsored for one for $5 or three for $10.

Singer-songwriter Steve Forbert, a native of Meridian, Mississippi, will perform at 4 p.m. on July 5 on the lawn of the Gaineswood Mansion.

The bluegrass ensemble Backwoods Travelers from Tuscaloosa will be the opening act.

Admission for the picnic concert is $5. Those age 12 and under admitted free. Gates open for tours at 9 a.m. The public is encouraged to bring blankets, lawn chairs and picnic baskets to this outdoor event.

For more information on all three days of the Freedom on the River festival, call the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce at 289-0270.

Editor’s Note: The Demopolis Times will publish a special Freedom on the River festival supplement in the July 2 issue.