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Utah families flock to parades, festivals to celebrate Fourth of July

Published: Thursday, July 4 2013 8:00 p.m. MDT

Larry Swanson throws candy during the Independence Day parade in Murray on Thursday, July 4, 2013.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

PROVO — Celebrations took place throughout the state Thursday, including numerous city parades and festivals.

America’s Freedom Festival at Provo once again brought thousands of families together for the holiday festivities.

In its 31st year, the Freedom Festival’s signature event, Stadium of Fire, attracted about 50,000 people to BYU’s LaVell Edwards Stadium for live entertainment from Kelly Clarkson, Carly Rae Jepsen and Cirque Du Soleil.

Additionally, thousands of Utahns attended other festival events, including the morning’s grand parade, the Colonial Fest, the Walk of Freedom, the Freedom Run 10K, 5K and fun run, and the 28th annual Balloon Fest.

Continuing through Saturday, the Freedom Festival offered Utahns the chance to spend the entire day with their families in a fun and laid-back way.

Due to foot traffic, passersby were brought to a meandering pace through more than 100 vender booths that lined the pathways in Downtown Provo at Center Street and University Avenue.

Paul Ericson, executive assistant of America's Freedom Festival at Provo, said about 130 vendors brought their businesses to the festivities, offering clothes, arts and crafts, artwork, accessories, all kinds of food, carnival rides, and live entertainment.

“I’ve had friends in Provo that say the Fourth of July week is their favorite week in Provo,” Ericson said. “There’s an activity almost every day, and there’s something for everyone, whether you want to go to the carnival, an art show, or a concert.”

Orem residents Patrick and Nicole Cassity lounged on the grass in the middle of the festival grounds, enjoying the shade with their family and sporting matching tie-dye shirts.

Nicole Cassity said it's a family tradition to attend the Freedom Festival.

“Everyone celebrates the Fourth of July, so why not come and do fun things?” she said. “It’s something we can get out and do as a family, and it’s a great community event.”

Nicole Cassity said she especially appreciates how many of the activities her children can do for free at the festival.

Patrick Cassity said the festival also offeres people a chance to interact with all the different merchants available locally.

“It’s nice to be out and involved in the community to celebrate the holiday,” he said.

Darin Ashby, an artist who owns a studio in South Jordan, was one of the local vendors participating in the Freedom Festival. Ashby’s booth displayed a gallery of his classical Renaissance paintings for passersby to appreciate and purchase.

“We have an amazing heritage here, and we have amazing opportunities in the state,” he said. “It’s cool to be a part of that and to be able to give back. This recognizes the community in Utah and what great resources and great lifestyles we have here.”

Many Freedom Festival events are scheduled to last throughout the week. More information can be found online at www.freedomfestival.org.

Email: kmckellar@deseretnews.com

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