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Fort Dalles Fourth blasts off

The Fort Dalles Fourth Independence Day celebration has enough financial backing to launch this year, now all it needs is a corps of volunteers to help make it happen.

“Financially, we’re a success,” said Doug Kirchhofer of Northwestern Mutual Financial Services, which will serve as the title sponsor for the event.

About 100 volunteers are needed to make the event a success. They can sign up online to volunteer or participate in the parade at

“We have a slate of events starting in the morning with a 5K run.” The run sets off along the Riverfront Trail.

A community breakfast is still in the planning stages.

A patriotic parade is also planned starting at 10 a.m. along the usual parade route. Patriotism and nostalgia are the themes.

“We want to give people freedom to express their patriotism at the event, especially for the parade,” Kirchhofer said. “We’ve been casting a wide net trying to get all kinds of interest in the parade. We want some aspect of the day to recognize veterans, patriotism and first responders.” Kirchhofer hopes to get 100 entrants for the parade.

It will be followed by a 10-hour festival featuring six musical performers at the Lewis and Clark Festival Park. The venue will be decked out lavishly in red, white and blue for the event.

“These are primarily regional acts with ties to The Dalles,” said Nolan Hare, who is organizing the entertainment for the event. “One is more of a national act.”

Wisewater, based in Nashville, is on a national tour, featuring Forest O’Conner, son of multi-Grammy and Country Music Award winner.

“He’s super-talented,” Hare said.

After that, The Sceptres, featuring Dan Ross of The Dalles, and well-known singer-songwriter Cal Scott, will be performing 1960s-era music.

Then the Stolen Sweets will take the crowd even farther back with vintage gypsy jazz-style music of the 1930s and 1940s. The group is a favorite around the Portland area and has toured nationally. It features local native Erin Sutherland.

These afternoon performances can be enjoyed in a more family-friendly setting. From noon until about 5 p.m., the event will be alcohol-free and will feature kids’ games. Yoga on the lawn and other activities are also planned.

In the evening, organizers will set up a beer garden in one portion of the festival area for adults only.

“We’ll shift things into a more concert festival atmosphere,” Hare said.

“It’s still all-ages, but we just wanted to take the first half of the day and take the alcohol out of the occasion,” Kirchhofer added. “If somebody wants to drink during the day, they can walk across the street to do it. Three quarters of the venue will be alcohol-free the entire day.”

Evening performances will include popular Hood River pop-rock band Sunderland from Hood River. The band has competed in national battles of the bands, Hare said.

Kevin Selfe will bring a full, seven-piece blues ensemble. Selfe has won a handful of Muddy Blues Awards.

Brewer’s Grade’s country sounds will round out the day. The band has toured all over the West Coast. Hare is one of the band members.

“We’ll be running from noon to 10 with solid, live music,” Hare said. The event will feature robust stage production, he noted, with a good-sized stage, a sound system and a lighting system.

“It’s the next level above what we have historically done. We’re trying to up the ante a little bit for this event.”

The day’s and evening’s events will all lead up to what is expected to be one of the largest pyrotechnic displays in the Pacific Northwest.

The display will be launched from a barge in the middle of the river.

“It will use the largest rocket displays in Oregon,” Kirchhofer said. “Only Pasco and Seattle have the same size rockets.”

The display will be set to music that will be broadcast at the festival area, and over some local radio stations.

“It will have all kinds of music,” Kirchhofer said. “This will be different from what we’ve seen in the gorge before. This will be multiple mortars launching, all timed out specifically to the music track we send them.”

Admittance to the event will be free, but the organizers invite donations to help fund the event. Food and drink purchased at the event will also subsidize the festival.


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