The Fourth of July is more than just a day off from work. It's a day when we Americans celebrate our independence from Britain in 1776 and all of the hard-fought battles that got us to that point. Our country is currently divided over very important and difficult issues, but hopefully the holiday helps us all to get in touch with our common past and feel more motivated to work together to build a better future for our country.
However let's not understate the other thing: It's also a day off of frickin' work! And the best thing about it is that this is a very relaxed holiday. There are no presents to buy, complicated meals to assemble or costume requirements. Instead we get to slather our skin in sunscreen, throw on our least attractive outfits and work on raising our cholesterol levels in between dips in the pool and ogling giant explosions. And this is Texas, gosh darn it. If we can't slap meat on the grill and explode pretty things better than anywhere else, then what are we even for? Don't let us down by skipping all of these awesome Fourth of July events.
Keep It Calm and Classy at the Arboretum
The Dallas Winds: A Patriotic Tribute to America
7:30 p.m. Thursday
8525 Garland Road
Lest you think that the only sounds coming from our national consciousness these days consist of the “whoosh” of hot air, the Dallas Wind Symphony offers a sweet dose of American greatness that will have you hand-over-heart for the stars and stripes. From 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday at the Dallas Arboretum, the Dallas Winds will bring together 50 woodwind, brass and percussion players in a patriotic paean to our American musical heritage. For a few hours, everything is high-flying and yankee-doodled again, especially if you bring a nice bottle of red or white in your picnic basket. Tickets to the event, part of the Cool Thursdays concert series, are $27 for adults, $25 for seniors and $10 for kids ages 3 to 12. Purchase at dallasarboretum.org. Jennifer Davis-Lamm
Do It Willie-style
4th of July Picnic
7 p.m. Saturday
Billy Bob's Texas
2520 Rodeo Plaza
Fourth of July weekend is about throwing down for independence, showing your patriotism, celebrating this nation, enjoying a shitload of fireworks shows that inspire the most bizarre traffic jams ever (and by traffic jams we mean both slowed traffic and the sort of jams where people just suddenly pull over and blare Billy Joe Shaver and sway when they spot a show on the horizon) and, if you’re in Dallas/Fort Worth, then it’s about Billy Bob's Texas' 4th of July Picnic. Annually, it combines the best parts of a patriotic backyard party with a full lineup of all-star musicians. This year, the show starts at 7 p.m. Saturday in Billy Bob’s Texas in the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards. Read that last bit again. That’s right, we get the insanely popular Turnpike Troubadours, the funky post-Gourds-era Shinyribs, the legend Shaver and outlaw country’s Mike & the Moonpies live inside the air conditioning and with a restaurant ready to serve. It may be called a picnic, but we suggest you leave yours at home and leave the burgers to the pros. For $20 to $30 (or $100 VIP pit access), you can two-step your way into Sunday, and still have a full weekend left. See billybobstexas.com for more info. Merritt Martin
Join the Throngs in Addison
4 p.m. Sunday
Addison Circle Park
It’s not Independence Day until you’ve watched some pyrotechnics being shot way into the sky, and one of the best places to check that activity off your holiday bucket list is Kaboom Town in Addison. The impressive fireworks display can be seen from anywhere in Addison, but we suggest you arrive to Addison Circle Park around 4 p.m., when the gates open, and stake out a prime spot for the show at 9:30 p.m. Admission is free and you can either bring your own grub or purchase hamburgers, cotton candy or all kinds of other holiday-appropriate foods on-site. The only thing you can’t bring in or take out is alcohol, but there will be plenty of beer and wine for sale, too. While you wait for the main event you’ll be entertained by patriotic performances from the 36th Infantry Division Band, the Dallas Wind Symphony and an air show by Addison Airport. Afterward, Party Machine Band will keep energy high with covers of hits from the ’50s through today, until the gates close at 11:30 p.m. For more info, visit addisonkaboomtown.com. Caroline North
Party on a Bridge
Red, White & Boom on the Bridge
5 p.m. Sunday
Ron Kirk Bridge
109 Continental Ave.
The Ron Kirk Bridge (formerly known as the Continental Avenue Bridge) is something of an underdog in the Dallas landmark scene — ostensibly built to connect, but largely playing second fiddle to a certain deck park. But this Independence Day weekend is finally its time to shine (and sparkle and dazzle) during Red, White & Boom on the Bridge. From 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday, the denizens of Dallas can come together on the bridge, located at 109 Continental Ave., for a spectacular Fourth of July event that includes live music, food and activities for the whole family. As the celebration winds down, visitors will enjoy a choice view of the Dallas skyline, punctuated with a brilliant fireworks display. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, see Facebook. Jennifer-Davis Lamm
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Time Travel to the 19th Century
Old Fashioned Fourth
10 a.m. Monday
Dallas Heritage Village
1515 S. Harwood St.
It’s not just about sweating buckets in a lawn chair until the fireworks show up. The Fourth has daytime fun to offer, and this time, it’s steeped in patriotic history. Dallas Heritage Village, 1515 S. Harwood St., celebrates the “living” aspect of the past: How people worked and played in the 19th century and Victorian era. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, the park offers a free celebration of historic fun with Old Fashioned Fourth. Wear red, white and blue and bring a red wagon to decorate for the All-Join-In Parade, bring and enjoy a picnic, compete in a stick pony race, or try to best your opponents at horseshoes and mini-checkers. And, of course, all day long costumed characters will be available to chat and give you information on the buildings and goings-on of the past. It’s a full day of old-fashioned adventure, leaving enough time to cool off before the sky lights up. And just think: You get to enjoy it all for free without a corset or layered hoop skirt. Visit dallasheritagevillage.org for more info. Merritt Martin
Inhale Some Corndogs (pictured at top)
Brass Knuckle Corndog Beatdown
5:30 p.m. Monday
The Libertine Bar
2010 Greenville Ave.
The Libertine Bar will hold its 8th annual Brass Knuckle Corndog Beatdown on Monday, July 4. Those interested can register now for free. Contestants must confirm their registration by 5 p.m. the day of the contest. Prizes include a trophy and $100 gift certificate for first place, plus lesser awards for second and third. The winner will be whoever gobbles the most corn dogs in 15 minutes. And that’s pretty much all anyone interested in the event needs to know. Oh, we could say tons more, if we wanted. We could wonder why anyone finds this sort of thing entertaining, discuss issues of taste and dignity and express opinions on eating contests and the people who participate or watch them. But this is our fun calendar section, so we won’t. Just go, if you’re into this sort of thing. We’ll merely sit here silently and judge you. Find more information at The Libertine’s Facebook page. Patrick Williams