Eleven years ago, Bob Harper heard there was not going to be a Fourth of July event in the Village of West Jefferson.
Due to various problems, including lack of funding and organization, locals would have to travel to London or Columbus to celebrate the nation’s birthday.
“I said bull crap,” said Harper, also a member of the VFW Post No. 7005 in the village.
At a minimum, he decided to gather the military units at the post with the fire department and other local veterans for a parade. The post would sell hot dogs and Cokes.
Then, someone asked about fireworks.
Next thing he knew, Harper had reformed the committee that puts on the village’s Streetfest, and organized a way for the VFW to give toward the cause each year.
Now an annual tradition, the West Jefferson July 4 Streetfest Inc. will host a public benefit to pay for the fireworks. The benefit will take place at the VFW, 1 Veterans Way, West Jefferson, at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 17.
Harper’s goal is to raise the $10,500 needed for the fireworks, put on by Hamburg of Lancaster. The total cost to organize the festival is $25,000, he said.
At the benefit, entertainment will be provided by The Posse Band, Tim Castle and Bobby Mason.
Various gift certificates will be auctioned off to the highest bidder, in addition to a 50/50 raffle. Food will also be available for donation.
Organizers are asking the public to donate gently used items to be auctioned. All is welcome other than appliances, clothing or stuffed furniture. Items can be dropped off at the VFW on Friday, May 16, beginning at 5 p.m., and on Saturday, May 17, beginning at 9 a.m.
Harper said it’s important to celebrate Independence Day locally.
“In my mind, I think of apple pie and the Fourth of July — the old days when the Fourth was the main event of the year,” he said. “We try to still make it a big deal in West Jefferson.”
Streetfest will take place July 2, July 3 and July 4 on Center Street. Side streets in downtown will be blocked off for the festival, which begins at 5 p.m. the first two days.
On July 4, the parade steps off at 11 a.m. and ends near noon at the gazebo, where military units — a combined effort of the VFW, American Legion Post No. 201 and area veterans — will conduct a 21-gun salute. Streetfest will open following the parade.
It’s all about instilling patriotism, Harper said.
“It’s important for our youth to know our nation has a birthday,” he said. “Our founding fathers sacrificed — that should be celebrated.”
For more information, call (614) 879-8840.
Andrea Chaffin can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 19 or via Twitter @AndeeWrites.