Farmington's Freedom Days celebration returns with four days of activities

Offerings include concerts, ice cream, gem show, fireworks and parade

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — For the first time since 2019, San Juan County residents will be able to enjoy a full lineup of Freedom Days events this year as the City of Farmington's annual Fourth of July celebration gets back in full swing after restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic ended.

The festivities run from Friday, July 1, through Monday, July 4, and include concerts, fireworks, children's activities, art shows and, of course, a parade.

The celebration gets underway with the San Juan County Gem & Mineral Show, which runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at McGee Park, 41 County Road 5568. Organizer Tory Bonner said approximately 30 vendors are expected for this year's event, which he anticipates will draw a crowd of between 3,000 and 4,000 visitors over three days.

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The show used to be held at the Farmington Civic Center, but Bonner said it was moved to McGee Park when the Civic Center underwent a renovation, and it has found a new home at the fairgrounds.

While the show is a magnet for rockhounds and jewelry lovers, Bonner said it also offers lots of things for children to do, including fluorescent mineral displays, rock polishing displays and even a gold-panning activity in which kids are encouraged to search for crystals.

Food vendors also will be on hand, he said.

A free concert by Chevel Shepherd at the Farmington Civic Center this weekend is one of the highlights of Farmington's Freedom Days celebration, which opens a four-day run July 1.

In downtown Farmington, the celebration begins with a TGIF concert at 11 a.m. Friday in Orchard Plaza by Nina Sasaki. The summer art walk will follow at 5 p.m., with galleries, shops and restaurants throughout the district featuring the work of dozens of artists and live music being featured in Orchard Plaza.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, the E3 Children's Museum & Science Center, 302 N. Orchard Ave., will play host to an ice cream social presented by the Farmington Museum Foundation. Event chairwoman Jill McQueary said the event is being resurrected this year after a five-year absence.

"It was so popular and everyone loved it," she said. "No matter who you talk to, they're glad you're bringing it back."

The social includes an ice cream eating contest emceed by Scott Michlin of KSJE-FM, magic tricks by Barryn Vaughan, yoyo demonstrations by Luke Renner, face painting, hay rides, a raffle, appearances by Disney princesses, a DJ, performances by the cast of the Four Corners Musical Theatre Company production of "The Pirates of Penzance," and a dunk tank that will offer visitors the chance to drop County Manager Mike Stark, Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett, Police Chief Steve Hebbe and others into a tank of water.

McQueary said the event will feature both soft and hard ice cream, the latter of which is being donated by Baskin-Robbins, along with a variety of toppings.

"I'm hoping we have several hundred people," she said.

Next on the list is a free outdoor concert by Chevel Shepherd on the lawn of the Farmington Civic Center, 200 W. Arrington St., on Saturday. The event gets underway at 5 p.m. with food trucks and a splash pad before Shepherd takes the stage at 7 p.m. Concert goers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or a blanket and a basket, and enjoy a picnic before the show.

The Sacred Voce choir will join Kissmah Brass 2.0 for a concert of patriotic and uplifting music at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 3 on the terrace at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.

Another concert will take place at 7 p.m. Sunday with Kissmah Brass 2.0 performing a 75-minute program of patriotic and uplifting tunes on the terrace of the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park, 3041 E. Main St, according to organizer Mick Hesse. The 10-piece brass outfit will perform music by John Philip Sousa, Scott Joplin and others, while the Sacred Voce choir joins the group to perform "America the Beautiful," a Ukranian prayer and "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" by Monty Python's Eric Idle.

At 9:25 p.m. Sunday, the City of Farmington's annual fireworks display begins on Sullivan Hill at the corner of 30th Street and College Boulevard, with the event being simulcast on KWYK-FM 94.9.

The annual Electric Light Parade at 9 p.m. on July 4 in downtown Farmington will conclude the city's annual Freedom Days celebration.

The list of Freedom Days activities comes to a close at dusk on Monday when the annual Electric Light Parade gets underway at approximately 9 p.m. on Main Street through downtown Farmington. Dozens of floats and marchers will light up the night with colorful, imaginative entries from Wall Street to South Schwartz Avenue. The event is presented by the Farmington Rotary Club.

For more information about Freedom Days, call 505-326-7602.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e.