Looking for ways to celebrate the 4th of July? The Town of Payson has planned a four-day weekend that includes a ceremony, events, games, live music, food vendors, 19th century baseball and, of course, Payson’s spectacular fireworks display.

July 4 – Green Valley Park

Thursday the 4th begins with a patriotic ceremony featuring a reading of the Declaration of Independence and a discussion. This will be held at Green Valley Park at the war memorial at 8 a.m.

The fun and games kick off at 11 a.m. when vendors open up their booths. A total of 15 vendors are expected with a selection of nine food vendors offering a variety of food, coffee, snowcones and more. Six vendors will sell merchandise.

At 1 p.m. the Kid and Family Games offer opportunities for the whole family to have fun with a little healthy competition to keep things interesting. There will be a three-legged race, water balloon toss, egg toss, potato sack races and tug-of-war all on the cool grass in Green Valley Park.

The pie eating contest is at 3:30 p.m. Participants, hands behind their backs, go face down into the pies eating as much as possible as fast as possible. No room for vanity here — at the end of the contest most have pie all over their faces and in their hair, but it’s all in good fun. The pies are donated locally and participants can sign up the day of the event.

People hang out in the park all day, relaxing, entering the family games, eating good food and walking around Payson’s picturesque lake.

Live music from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. adds to the festivities. Splash!, an energetic and entertaining party cover band comprised of seasoned musicians from Mesa, performs an eclectic mix of only the best classic and pop rock from past to present.

As darkness falls, people grab a spot around the big lake to view the 30-minute fireworks display starting at 9 p.m. Fireworks are provided by the Town of Payson Water Department and Northern Gila County Sanitary District. People drive to Payson from all over for this display. It’s a good idea to get there early to claim your spot.

There will be a shuttle service to Green Valley Park from Payson High School starting at 4:45 p.m. as there is limited parking near the event. The shuttle will return spectators to the high school after the fireworks.

Payson has been able to have the display even when other communities cancel for fire concerns as the fireworks are lit along the side of the lake in a fire-safe environment.

July 5 – Rumsey Park

On Friday evening, a 19th century baseball game between the Fort Verde Excelsiors vs. Prescott Champions will take you back in time.

The game is to be played based on the rules of baseball in the 1860s. It will be a nine-inning game plus a three-inning game that’s open to spectator participation.

The game is presented by the 19th Century Baseball Club. Its mission is to educate the public about the history of baseball, and to highlight its role in American history.

The national anthem will play at 6 p.m. At 6:15 p.m. the club will offer introductions and a brief history and background on the game. At 6:30 p.m. the game will begin. There will be trivia questions between innings.

“Take Me Out to the Ballgame” will be sung during the seventh-inning stretch, and at 7:30 p.m. the three-inning game will start.

At 8 p.m. the field will be opened up for kids to run the bases. Hot dogs and popcorn will be on sale during the event.

July 6 – Payson

Payson Farmers Market starts at 8 a.m. and runs until noon in the Sawmill Crossing parking lot. Local vendors sell organically grown produce, homemade jams, soaps, and many other products.

Saturday evening Ryan Biter will provide live music from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. as part of the free Concert in the Park series in Green Valley Park.

“His music echoes the expansive soul of the Southwest. The sound is equal parts rural Americana, spectacled college town hipster, mountain bluegrass, and new age fund beatbox drum circle,” according to his website.

July 6 and July 7 – Pine

Pine and Strawberry celebrate the holiday with the annual 4th of July Arts and Crafts Festival presented by Pine-Strawberry Arts and Crafts Guild. More than 80 booths showcasing assorted arts and crafts at the Pine Community Center grounds. About 27 booths are located indoors and the rest are outside.

Admission is free to the public.

The festival will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. There will be a pancake breakfast both days at 8 a.m. by the Mountain Village Foundation.

Proceeds will assist those in need in Pine and Strawberry. Additional food and beverages will be available for purchase during the festival.

Digital Media Mgr/Staff Reporter/Photographer

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