U.S. citizens have never been afraid to show their American pride around the 4th of July. Songs have been written about it; we wear lots of red, white and blue; and there are family cookouts aplenty. In some cases, however, entire towns commemorate the country’s independence—and some really do it up in style. Five of TDS’ communities were named as top small town places for celebrating July 4th in big ways. Check out what gives these cities an extra spark:

Estes Park, Colorado
Rocky Mountain National Park in the small mountain village of Estes Park is known for its majestic views, spectacular overlooks of the subalpine and alpine worlds, wildflowers, and starry nights on every day of the year. During the park’s Go 4th Festival, things get amped up a notch. Activities include a pancake breakfast and bull-riding show, a big band concert, car show, pig roast and a plethora of outdoor activities topped off with an impressive fireworks display over the gorgeous Lake Estes.

Bend, Oregon
Known as the outdoor playground of the West, Bend is the place to be if you are a nature lover and active person. However, during the 4th, the city goes to the dogs—or should I say animals! The morning begins with a pancake breakfast and 8,000 plus participant and spectator pet parade—costumed kids and dogs, cats, horses, goldfish, chickens, sheep, guinea pigs, llamas (yes, you read that right), and more strut their stuff and ride in little carts. Evidently there is a flying dog who makes an appearance as well. The pet-friendly day continues at Drake Park with gunny sack and three-legged races, hula-hoop contests, local artisans, and delicious food. Finish the night off with a dazzling fireworks show launched from Pilot Butte. Photo credit: Pete Alport/Visit Bend

Capitan, New Mexico
If you plan to visit Capitan, you must go during the nation’s largest open rodeo weekend—July 4-7. The Smokey Bear Stampede offers up four days of rodeos in the 4D Barrels, Youth and Open Rodeo categories. However, our country’s independence is not lost on this community of approximately 1,400 residents. On the 4th, the rodeo excitement is topped with a meet and greet with Smokey Bear, mutton bustin’*, goat roping, great food, shopping, dancing and a parade. When the last bull is ridden for the day—a 10-minute warning informs cowboys it’s time to tie up their horses—the arena goes dark and the fireworks begin. Spectators finish out each day with a rodeo dance. *Muttin busting is when children ride or race sheep. Photo credit: Dianne Stallings/Ruidoso News

Knoxville, Tennessee
A free festival in Knoxville’s World’s Fair Park is the big draw during the holiday where crowds gather for good music, good food, and good times. World-renowned barbeque and a host of local breweries keep the celebration moving along come rain or shine. The Family Fun Stage provides interactive live entertainment for the whole family, or hang out on the lawn and play miniature golf and build amazing structures with Lego bricks. If being on the water is your thing, hop on a private cruise, enjoy an All-American four-course meal, and watch the fireworks from the docked boat.

Cedar City, Utah
If you like festivals, Cedar City is the place to be. Located near Zion National Park, the “Festival City” is a busy place from June through October. Although the city puts on a wonderful 4th with a parade, high-ranking burgers and barbeque, and fireworks, the city is really know for everything else going on: The Tony-award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival on the Southern Utah University campus, the Wildflower Festival at the Cedar Breaks National Monument, the Utah Midsummer Renaissance Faire, July Jamboree and Cruise-In, and the Great American Stampede. Surely there is seomthing for everyone all summer long. Photo credit: Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Where’s your favorite spot to celebrate the 4th of July? Please share with the rest of us in the comments.


Guest blogger: Rhonda Hilmershausen

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