Fireworks will span Fourth of July holiday

Brett Berntsen
Tommy Bolack on Tuesday at his B-Square Ranch just south of Farmington shows off the 16-inch mortar shell he plans to shoot off during his show on the Fourth of July holiday.

FARMINGTON – Local residents can enjoy three straight nights of fireworks over the Fourth of July holiday.

The city of Farmington will kick off the Independence Day festivities on Sunday, followed by pyrotechnic guru Tommy Bolack's show on Monday, which is the Fourth of July. The city of Bloomfield will wrap things up with a final barrage on Tuesday. The shows are scheduled to blast off each night around 9:30 p.m.

Event organizers staggered the displays to avoid competition, however Bolack says he has the biggest arsenal in the region.

"People like my show a little better," said Bolack, who has been lighting up the night sky from his B-Square Ranch south of Farmington for more than 20 years.

A self-declared "thump junky," Bolack said his show offers the biggest booms, including a massive 16-inch mortar shell that shoots half a mile in the air. In comparison, the largest firework an average consumer can buy measures 1.75 inches in diameter. Bolack also has what he calls a "mega super slammer" — a titanium-based charge with the equivalent power of six sticks of dynamite.

"I'm gonna light that one off at the beginning, just to get people's attention," Bolack said.

While many enthusiasts shoot their fireworks off straight out of the package, Bolack modifies his to create unique effects. By adding different chemicals, he can manipulate colors even create shapes.

"There'll be some smiley faces and some hearts," he said. "Maybe even a 'U.S.A.'"

Tommy Bolack on Tuesday at his B-Square Ranch just south of Farmington shows the inside of one of the fireworks he plans to shoot off on the Fourth of July holiday.

Bolack said his interest in fireworks was sparked as a kid, ever since he began stringing individual charges together to create larger and larger explosions.

"I love to feel the concussion, and the rumbling in the ground," he said.

Now he has a federal explosives license and sees his displays as examples of how to enjoy the activity responsibly. He said putting on a large show also helps satisfy the urge for kids to experiment on their own.

"They are dangerous. These kids need to understand that," he said. "That's why I picked the most barren spot on my ranch to light them off from. If a fire starts up there, not much is going to happen."

The city of Bloomfield also prides itself on helping the community celebrate the nation's independence. Mayor Scott Eckstein said the city will start things off with a evening concert at the Bloomfield soccer fields, followed by a 25-minute barrage of fireworks.

"It’s really impressive show," Eckstein said.

Eckstein said the city started putting on a display three years ago, and has receiving positive feedback each year. He said it's not a competition with Bolack.

Eckstein recommended watching Bloomfield's display from its soccer fields or the river walk park. The Farmington Convention and Visitor's Bureau recommends watching the Sunday show from its parking lot on East Main Street. Bolack, meanwhile, said his display can typically be seen for miles around.

"It's a way to give back to the community," he said. "They've always been good to me."

Brett Berntsen covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606. 

Tommy Bolack on Tuesday at his B-Square Ranch just south of Farmington sits in the walk-in magazine where he stores his fireworks. He will use the fireworks during his show on the Fourth of July holiday.