Festivities abound for Independence Day
It’s a day of celebration: celebrating America with family and friends, an occasion hopefully accompanied by good weather and good times.
While many places are known for 4th of July events, Belhaven’s celebration is rooted in history. For 76 years, the town has thrown an all-independence-day affair, including a parade, live music and four pageants in which the winners are crowned Little Miss Independence, Young Miss Independence, Junior Miss Independence and Miss Independence.
Belhaven festivities begin on July 3 at 3 p.m. Vendors will open on Main Street and the first event is the Kiddie Parade, in which children are invited to dress in their red, white and blue best and parade around the grounds of the historic River Forest Manor. Young and Miss Independence pageants will be held that night at the Wilkinson Center, followed by a street dance on Main Street featuring Disco D.
The next morning offers more of the same, as festivities open with the Little Miss Independence pageant at 9 a.m., and the parade will follow at 11 a.m. In between, visitors can take a helicopter ride or shop with the Main Street vendors. Live music starts at 1:30 p.m. on the Wilkinson Center stage.
For 35 of the 76 years of the Belhaven celebrations, the Pantego Mud Run has drawn an enthusiastic crowd. Hosted by the Pantego Volunteer Fire Department, the Mud Run is a fundraiser that helps with the department’s expenses and buying new equipment. The Mud Run is 200 feet of eastern North Carolina mud created by a team volunteers who churn up the ground at 28270 U.S. Highway 264 East and water it down to create a mud hole that only the most daring of drivers will attempt to conquer.
Four classes of vehicles compete: Pure Stock, Naturally Aspirated, Supercharger Blower and SuperPro Unlimited. Their drivers come from as far away as Virginia to compete for prizes ranging from $25 for fifth place in Class A to $400 for first place in Class D, according to PVFD Chief Derrick Myers. And the crowd returns year after year to watch the show.
“We get everyone from little kids right on up to the older folks,” Myers said in a past interview. “What they like is just watching somebody go all the way through to the end. That usually gets the crowd all excited.”
Tickets to the Mud Run are $10. There is no admission fee for children under the age of 7. Gates open at 9 a.m., and the first race starts at 1:30 p.m.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
3 p.m. Vendors open, Main Street
4 p.m. Kiddie Parade, River Forest Manor
5:30 p.m. Pie Contest, Belhaven Police Department parking lot
6 p.m. Young and Miss Independence pageants, Wilkinson Center
6 p.m. Belhaven Volunteer Fire Department Hot Dog Eating Contest, fire department
6 p.m. BVFD Dunking Booth, police department parking Lot
8-11 p.m. Street Dance, Main Street stage
9 a.m. Little Miss Independence pageant, Wilkinson Center
9 a.m. Vendors open, Main Street; helicopter rides, bouncey houses
10 a.m. Dignitary breakfast, Belhaven Civic Center
11 a.m. Fourth of July parade
Noon Dunking booth, police department lot
12:30-1:30 p.m. Nikki Selby, live music at the Wilkinson Center
1 p.m. Lawn mower pull
1:30 p.m. Pantego Mud Run, U.S. Highway 264 W
1:30-2:30 p.m. Keane Warren, live music at the Wilkinson Center
2:30-4 p.m. Cooper Greer, live music at the Wilkinson Center
4-5 p.m. Dave Rieves, live music at the Wilkinson Center
9 p.m. Fireworks
Festival Park will be the scene of Washington’s July 4th celebration. Live music starts at noon with Rural Route Romance, The Janitors and the classic guitar masters of Rock the Pamlico. Food vendors will be available. The day of music on the waterfront will be topped off by fireworks at dark.