A Bright Outlook

A good crowd turned out for Yankton’s Fourth of July festivities, which included the debut of the Music at the Meridian series, food vendors and, of course, fireworks.

Can Yankton support a special event that complements its Fourth of July fireworks display?

With this year’s Independence Day falling on the first Thursday of July — the same day that traditionally kicks off Music at the Meridian — officials sought to answer that question by testing out how a slightly expanded Music at the Meridian event would do that evening.

With a little over a week to assess the event, Yankton Events Coordinator Brittany LaCroix told the Press & Dakotan that it was a success.

“It was a really great night,” LaCroix said. “I stayed throughout the entire night. We saw a steady stream of people coming and by 8-8:30 p.m., there was a good portion of people there that was ready to see the fireworks but also able to listen to the music, get some food from the local food trucks and some drinks from Ben’s Brewing Company and paint a tile. We saw a lot of people really engaging with the activities that happen at Music at the Meridian. We extended the music … to go until 10 p.m. to really connect with the fireworks. It was just a huge hit.”

She estimated that crowd sizes around the Meridian Plaza up to the 1929 water plant to the west were 3,000-5,000 people.   

LaCroix said that, while most everything went smoothly with this year’s event, organizers learned a lesson for the future.

“We could definitely use one or two more food trucks,” she said. “Talking with our (food vendors that were there), they were busy the entire night. A lot of them had extra food prepped for events they had coming up and they had to break into their stored food. Maybe having one or two more food trucks will help alleviate the stress and busy-ness for them.”

She said that the decision to move the fireworks up on to the Meridian Bridge this year paid off.

“The fireworks on the bridge were just beautiful,” she said. “The bridge created a beautiful backdrop. They were higher in the air, so they were able to be seen throughout the community.”

As for continuing events in the future, LaCroix said there’s one major asset that’s needed to make a complementary event on the Fourth happen.

“I think the biggest thing is we need volunteers and we need manpower,” she said. “It’s kind of one of those fun but awkward holidays because, depending on when the Fourth of July falls, some people have to work the next day. People don’t always want to stay out late if it’s on a Sunday-Wednesday, but if it’s on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday, then it really works.”

While talk is only preliminary, she said there is some desire for a more enhanced Fourth of July celebration in Yankton beyond fireworks that occurs each year.

“We haven’t made any final decisions,” she said. “We’ve heard a lot from the community that they really liked the event and they would like to see something happen every single year.”

However, LaCroix said there’s still a lot up in the air as to what a yearly event could look like.

“I don’t know if we would do something to this scale — this large of an event — unless (Independence Day) happens on Music at the Meridian, but I definitely think we are having conversations of trying to have something happening.”

She said one possibility could include a scaled back version of Music at the Meridian.

“I think if it wasn’t on Music at the Meridian, we could start the music a little bit later — maybe at 7 or 8 p.m.,” she said. “We had a decent crowd there at 6, but I think that was more of the Music at the Meridian crowd than a Fourth of July crowd.”

LaCroix said the city might also seek out community support for smaller events during the Fourth of July while helping with some coordination.

Still, she said that she is confident in the future.

I think that this was a great event and I think that we can definitely plan on seeing a large event on the Fourth of July during Music at the Meridian since they can coexist at the same time,” she said. “I think that you will see a smaller event on the Fourth of July, and it depends on the date.”

Next year, Independence Day falls on a Saturday due to 2020 being a leap year.

Follow @RobNielsenPandD on Twitter.

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