July 4 2018

Fireworks over the parking lot of the Upper Missouri Valley Fairgrounds during the 2018 Fourth of July display.

A Fourth of July without fireworks is like jelly without peanut butter or ketchup without a hotdog, it’s just not right. Thankfully, the generosity of many local businesses is ensuring that the skies will be alight in Williston this Independence Day.

Greg Cottrell heads the project known as “Save the 4th of July in Williston ND,” and has been working for the past year to secure donations to make Williston’s community fireworks display even bigger and better than previous years. After the city said they would not be able to fund a display, Cottrell decided that the tradition needed to be kept alive, and began working to put together a professional-grade display for the city and its residents.

“I think it’s just a staple of what the Fourth of July is,” Cottrell told the Williston Herald. “It’s part of the celebration. When we didn’t have it, I wanted to find a way to make it happen.”

For the last couple years, Cottrell has been working with Adam Natwick, owner of Explosive Enterprises Fireworks to create the display.

With an initial $10,000 coming from the Williston Convention and Visitors Bureau, Cottrell has been working to match those funds, with donations coming from over a dozen different local businesses and organizations, including Williston Auto, CHI St. Alexius Health, Halliburton, Williston Community Builders and Williston Basin API, with the Upper Missouri Valley Fair donating use of the fairgrounds.

In 2018, Cottrell said the group was able to put on a $40,000 to $50,000 display at around half that cost, thanks to not only the donations he received, but thanks to Natwick, who is able to purchase the fireworks and equipment at a significant discount.

This year, Cottrell said people can expect another star-spangled spectacle, with fireworks running for about 20 to 25 minutes at the Upper Missouri Valley Fairgrounds.

Since Cottrell was able to meet and exceed his $20,000 goal for the event, he said he wanted to use the additional funds to add more to the event. More than just a fireworks display this year, the event will feature a “pre-show” with musical entertainment by Kickin’ It Entertainment of Williston, who will provide music from around 6 to 8:30 p.m., as well as for the display.

At 8:30 p.m., local band Jade’s Agenda will take the stage, entertaining the crowd until around 10:30, shortly before the fireworks begin.

For those looking to make a whole evening of it, Cottrell said the fairgrounds will be opening up the beer gardens for use during the event, and several local food vendors will also be on-hand, so residents can bring their camping chairs, blankets or simply stretch out in the back of a pick-up and enjoy the food, music and fun as the sky lights up.

One notable change, Cottrell said, is that due to the planned display, the fireworks will be shot off from the pit area of the fairgrounds, rather than the racetrack, which will make parking and seating limited. Aside from food and drink, the fireworks display is free and open to the public.

Cottrell is still collecting donations for the event to cover the cost of additional services, such as security for the event. There is still availability for additional food and beverage vendors as well, he said. To get involved with the project and stay up to date with all the happenings related to it, go online to www.facebook.com/Save-the-4th-of-July-in-Williston-ND.

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