By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer
Celebrate freedom at the 2023 Ridgecrest Fireworks this Saturday night, July 1, at the Desert Empire Fairgrounds, 520 South Richmond Road. Doors open at 4:30 pm, music starts at 6 pm, and fireworks blast off at 9 pm. Kids under 18 get in free; everybody else is $5.00. You can scan the QR code on Page x or pay at the door.
Folks may be surprised to learn this is the first time in about 35 years that there has been an entrance fee. There are fewer business sponsors this year, and your $5.00 will ensure there are fireworks again next year.
“Our business community is struggling,” says Chip Holloway, Chief Executive Officer of the Desert Empire Fairgrounds and Event Center. “In the current economic environment, the business sponsors are not as prevalent as they have been in the past. And it will be up to individual community support for this thing to continue.” This year the fireworks event costs about $45,000.00.
Holloway wants to thank the most prominent sponsor, The City of Ridgecrest, with a $15,000 sponsorship. He says, “The City encouraged us to charge because they’re trying to change the mindset of this community that everything is for free and that we do everything cheaply. We are trying to create more quality events, which take money.”
Other generous sponsors to appreciate are the Lions Club, which gave $5,000, and Desert Valleys Credit Union, which promotes matching their members’ donations. They have also received donations from Inyokern Airport, the Ridgecrest Area Association of Realtors, and Mediacom and have been promised sponsorship from Race Communications.
Business dealings aside, everybody should know it will be well worth it. “It’s going be bigger and cooler than last year,” reports Scott Miller, Realtor with Keller Williams Realty and member of the Fair Fireworks Committee of Friends of the Fair.
What makes it bigger and cooler? More food vendors, live music, and bigger booms from fireworks are extra impressive when you can watch them from close range at the fairgrounds. They paid $6,000 extra to ensure the booms would be bigger and more spectacular than ever in Ridgecrest. They will also have a synchronized musical soundtrack.
Live music will be by a popular band on the fair circuit, Get Down Tonight. “I wanted a band that could do a little bit of everything,” says Holloway. “Get Down Tonight does. If you don’t like the song they are playing, you’ll probably like the next song.” They will play three sets from 6 pm until dark. The sound quality will be as good as you can get for an outdoor venue because Mc2 McCoy and McEntee Sound & Lighting will be engineering the music. Holloway says, “They can crank it up.”
The parking lot will be managed by Disturbedsouls Motorcycle Club, a traditional motorcycle club all about brotherhood and motorcycles. Voluntary donations would assist the club in its support of various causes, including holiday gift baskets.
The main folks to thank for putting this party together are Miller, Stephen Birdwell of Ridgecrest Shout Outs, and Retired Police Department Sergeant Tony Brown. Holloway says he helps out.
To address the annual question, “Why isn’t this on the fourth?” This is a near-impossible feat. There are only so many fireworks companies. “The issue now is we can’t even get it on the fourth if we wanted it now,” says Holloway. “Because they’ve downsized so much that we wouldn’t even get a date. So we don’t even have a choice. It’s not a cost thing as much as it was just getting a show.” In addition, as with many industries, there is the problem of having qualified personnel to do the job.
So come on out and celebrate with your neighbors, friends, and family. “This is one of those events that people come out and see people they haven’t seen since last year,” says Miller. “It’s very much a community event. It’s coming to hang out and celebrate our amazing town. Celebrate the Fourth of July early so you can celebrate the Fourth of July in your way during the week. We do it on the weekend so that we can have a community event.”
It will be hot, so bring shade to take down at dark and cold non-alcoholic beverages. Not to worry, Partners will have a full bar set up.