By David Lias
VERMILLION – For over a decade, the Vermillion community has celebrated the Fourth of July with fun, food and fireworks.
Fireworks will still be a part of the local Independence Day recognition here. However, there will be no formal program hosted by the Vermillion Area Chamber of Commerce and Development Company (VCDC) and local businesses at Barstow Park on July 4.
In past years, the park has hosted inflatables, various concessions, a beer garden, a local hot dog eating contest and other activities during the late afternoon and evening hours, culminating with a fireworks display after sunset.
Steve Howe, executive director of the VCDC, hopes people will take advantage of the city’s parks and other amenities as they spend family time together on July 4.
“This is something that we (the VCDC board members) have been talking about for some time,” Howe said, “and it received some discussion last year, about whether to continue having this get-together in the park.
Planners of the event have watched local participation dwindle over the years.
“We talked it over last year, about the possibility of canceling it,” Howe said. “Over the years, attendance has continued to diminish and the costs have continued to rise. We just weren’t getting a lot of participation from the community, whether it be in attendance, or in volunteers wanting to help out, and it really wasn’t something that our member businesses were really taking advantage of.”
The board concluded that the VCDC’s staffing and financial resources would be better spent on projects that better aligned with the organization’s mission of growing the community’s economic base and expanding the local marketplace.
“Some of the vendors who were coming were out-of-town vendors,” Howe said. “It just didn’t really sit right that a Chamber of Commerce event is relying on out-of-town businesses to participate. But if we didn’t invite those out-of-town vendors, the offerings at the event would be really limited.”
The VCDC did contact service groups in the community to see if they would be willing to take a leadership role or provide assistance in offering a community July 4 program.
“We hoped to get broader-based community involvement in the event, and we just weren’t able to, for the same reasons that we were really struggling,” Howe said. “It’s hard to get volunteers on the Fourth of July, and for non-profit organizations, they had to determine how to fund such an activity.
“We just couldn’t align with anyone who was willing to participate with us on it, so we really had to make the hard decision, even though we’d really like to see this event continue, to decide that it’s something that we just couldn’t do by ourselves any longer,” he said. “It was a very difficult decision, but this activity had turned into something that just wasn’t sustainable.”
Vermillion’s traditional fireworks display will be held at dusk July 4.