By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

The people of Trousdale County turned out in droves Tuesday afternoon for what was possibly the biggest Fourth of July celebration Hartsville has seen in years.

In addition to the Fourth of July, Hartsville was also celebrating its 200th anniversary as a town, having been first recognized by the state legislature in 1817.

Despite rain in the morning hours, the skies cleared in time for the annual Independence Day Parade to begin shortly after 4 p.m.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Bobby Wade’s drag racing car took first place in the parade.

The procession, which included elected officials, a Trail Life USA color guard, clowns, classic cars and more started down McMurry Blvd. and onto Broadway.

Bobby Wade’s patriotic drag racing car took the first-place trophy, with second going to 10-year-old Emily Holder/Brown, who clogged the entire parade route. Third place went to Ashley Litton, who rode her horse decorated for the holiday.

“We really celebrated the Bicentennial this year! I was very proud of the parade and all the help I received in the lineup,” said parade organizer Amber Russell.

“I’m so thrilled, I just want to hug every entry and every vendor that came and made this July 4 possibly the biggest in Hartsville history!”

Trousdale’s Volunteer Fire Department participated in its first ever air-pack competition, in which members challenged themselves to walk the entire parade route on one air pack. Officials said they hope to expand that competition by inviting surrounding counties in the future.

“They should be very proud of themselves!” Russell said.

GALLERY: Hartsville Independence Day Parade

GALLERY: Hartsville Independence Day Music in the Park

After the parade, the festivities moved to Hartsville City Park, with expanded food options, more booths and more live music than in years past.

Various events included a watermelon-eating contest, a tobacco spitting contest, dunk tank and cake walk. The music was highlighted by a performance from the Dustin Spears Band, a country music group based out of Westmoreland.

“We had an amazing day. The turnout was great. We had a really nice Fourth of July parade that brought out a lot of people, and then people went down to the park,” said Chamber of Commerce Director Natalie Knudsen.

“We had a lot of fun with the kids games and watermelon eating contest. There were a lot of people who came to see what was happening.”

Multiple community organizations and churches had booths in the park this year, including the Chamber of Commerce, Hartsville Rotary Club, Historical Society, Journey Church, Rocky Creek Church and many more.

The Community Band, consisting of high school band members and band alumni, capped the evening with a concert of patriotic music before the traditional fireworks display to end the event.

“We had an amazing music lineup with really good entertainment. There were a lot of great sponsors who helped us out also,” Knudsen said.

The turnout in the park was tremendous, well exceeding that in years past.

“If vendors sell out of food by 7:30, I would have to say the Music in the Park events were a great success,” Russell said. “The performers were beautiful and the songs filled the park with reminders of what the day is all about.

“Such a tremendous day and it was pulled off by so many. They’re all important and a huge thank you and know they are truly appreciated.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.