County ready for Fourth of July

FIREWORKS IN BRISTOL for last year's Fourth of July celebration. Independent file photo/Steve James

ADDISON COUNTY — The 147th anniversary of America’s independence is almost here, and the usual slate of festivities is back to pre-pandemic levels. Plus Bristol is upping its game with a new facet to its already busy Fourth of July program. 

Keep reading to find out where to go and what’s on offer in Addison County and just beyond.

New this year: Bristol’s popular Fourth of July parade will feature some friendly competition. The town’s 4th of July Committee is planning a Battle of the Bands that will give local musicians a chance to showcase their talent during the parade and compete for a $500 cash prize. 

Ashley Smith, coordinator of Bristol’s July Fourth parade and a member of the 4th of July Committee, said a few bands have signed up for the competition so far, while the committee is still accepting contenders. 

“The majority of the bands are instrumental ensembles. The competition is open to any style band,” Smith said. “We did not want to create any guidelines for the bands, except that the music provided during the parade be kept family-friendly. Bands of any age, size and style are able, as well as encouraged, to participate.”  

Participating bands will be included in the parade procession, either as a walking group or on a float. Judging will follow the parade and take place at the 4th of July committee’s booth on the Bristol Town Green, where spectators can vote for the band of their choice until 3 p.m.

Votes will be based on the bands’ performances during the parade. Battle of the Bands participants will be asked to make themselves identifiable during the processional by having a poster visible to parade spectators, displaying the group’s name and entry number. 

Smith said the 4th of July Committee hopes to continue the new event at future July Fourth celebrations. 

“A committee member came up with the idea at a recent meeting, and we quickly got to work on advertising and encouraging bands to join, since July 4th is so close. We do hope to continue and grow the tradition in the coming years,” she said. 


Brandon gets the ball rolling in the area with its annual Independence Day celebration this Saturday, July 1, with all sorts of fun events, activity and action.

The Brandon Congregational Church will host a silent auction from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., (except during the parade) at its Fellowship Hall across from Central Park. This is separate from the week-long silent auction going on at the Brandon Town Hall. Also beginning at 9 a.m. are free train rides, staring at the Brandon Inn. The parade starts at 10 a.m. on Park Street and winds through downtown to Conant Square. At 11 a.m. the Runnin’ Wild Jazz Band, led by Gene Childers, will play at the Central Park Gazebo.

All sorts of activities will take place behind the Brandon Inn beginning at 11 a.m., including free family games, face painting, trampoline, Spider Bounce ride, mechanical bull (fee), a Little Debbie Swiss Roll eating contest, and a Duck Race over Neshobe Falls — the little rubber duckies go in the water behind the Brandon Inn and there is good viewing at Kennedy Park. Ducks for the race can be purchased on the Brandon Inn lawn from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Green Park, across from Red Clover Ale, will be host to a beer garden. The Aaron Audet Band will play there from 3-5 p.m.

This year’s 50/50 raffle tickets will be available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the silent auction and the parade info booth and from roaming ticket sellers. The winner will be drawn at 6:30 p.m. at the Street Dance in front of Bar Harbor Bank. Jam Man entertainment will provide the tunes.

Fireworks will close out the day at dusk and will be visible from within a mile of downtown. Folks can park in the American Legion parking lot on Franklin Street from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and take the shuttle or walk into town to enjoy all the events.


The town of Bristol really knows how to celebrate Independence day, with festivities on Monday, July 3, and Tuesday, July 4. They begin on Monday at 6 p.m. at the Rec Field with music by the Vermont National Guard 40th Army Band and Jam Man Entertainment. There will be food and other vendors, games, and raffle tickets until dusk, when the fireworks begin.

July 4 events begin at 7 a.m. with the Pam Paradee Memorial Bristol 4th of July 5K Road Race. The races starts at Mount Abraham Union High School.

The Great Bristol Outhouse Race, which begins at 9 a.m., runs in a straight line from the crosswalk in front of St. Ambrose Catholic Church on West Street to the finish line at the traffic light. There are usually three or four outhouses entered per heat and usually four heats. The winner of each heat then moves on to the final heat to determine who will be the World Champion Outhouse Race Team. It’s a lot of fun to watch and cheer. Place your bets!

Bristol’s Fourth of July parade, one of the longest running parades in the state, begins at 10:30 a.m. The parade is made up of color guards, firetrucks, bands, and floats. The parade is led by the grand marshal being carried by a historic horse-drawn coach. The 2023 grand marshal is Marion Baser (long time member of the 4th of July Committee) accompanied by her husband, Fred.

This year’s parade theme is “Music of the ‘70s” and will include the new battle of the bands, all on their own floats. Wear your bellbottoms and vote for your favorite

The festival on the Bristol Green is the centerpiece of the celebration, with food and craft vendors, pony rides for the kids, and an inflatable family fun center. All of this is built around the main attraction, music by Mango Jam. For the comfort of those around you, we ask that you please leave your pets at home.


While less busy than its other county towns, the Little City has its own fireworks show on the evening of Monday, July 3, at dusk. Look in the skies behind the high school for bursts of colorful light.


For a very different perspective on Independence Day, two free events in Ferrisburgh on Wednesday, July 5, will honor the legacy of Frederick Douglass. At 11 a.m. Union Meeting Hall will host a morning reflection about the legacy of Douglass and his historic visit to Ferrisburgh in 1843. Rokeby Museum staff will lead a history talk and community reflection activity on the site where Douglass spoke. The Friends of Union Meeting Hall will speak about the legacy of the two town buildings, and Union Meeting Hall will be open for touring.

At 1 p.m., Rokeby Museum will hold its annual reading of Douglass’ 1852 speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July.” Rokeby will provide sections of the speech, and community members are asked to join the reading. Douglass gave this speech at an Independence Day celebration in Rochester, N.Y., on July 5, 1852. The event commemorated the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but in his speech Douglass reminded the crowd that not all people celebrated freedom on the Fourth of July. He said, “The blessing in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common.”

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