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Updated: 07/10/2014 07:35:52PM

The Fourth in Polk

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Artfully arranged food makes a great centerpiece, too, such as these fourth of July strawberries.


The Fourth of July fireworks

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Thousands of people from all over Central Florida will toss a few lawn chairs, a cooler and the kids in the car and head to Haines City’s Lake Eva Park for the area’s premier Fourth of July event, Thunder on the Ridge. And while this event draws about 30,000 yearly, there are other Fourth of July events going on that there’s a variety to choose from in Polk County.

At Lake Eva Park the headliner is Florida native Michael Ray along with fellow artists Jill’s Cashbox, Aubrey Wollett, Cross Traxx and Justin Grimes. The entertainment will kick off at 4 p.m. so visitors have an hour after the event kicks off to find the optimal spots around the band shell to watch the entertainment.

But getting top notch entertainment isn’t cheap, so fundraising starts early.

“We know we’re going to spend about $30,000 for fireworks and about $40,000 for entertainment,” said Assistant Leisure Services Director Dan McClain. “and the rest adds up.”

Like last year, reserved seating will be available for $12 a ticket. Tickets may be obtained via the Leisure Services offices or on line at the Thunder on the Ridge website,

This year, according to Peck, there will be a drawing for the “Favorite Fan.”

The fan and one guest will have the opportunity to win a backstage meet and greet with the headliner and receive two seats in the reserved section. Tickets cost $1 or batches from $5 to $20. The winner will be drawn before Ray’s performance at 7 p.m.

Repeated this year will be the beer garden at the Lake Eva Park tennis courts. Budweiser products will be for sale and must be consumed within the garden confines.

“We had to find ways to generate as much revenue as possible,” McClain said earlier. “This seemed like a good way. It had worked successfully at the Ribs on the Ridge event, so it was a natural for the Fourth of July.”

Also, this year, according to Peck, a Guinness World Record event is planned, but what it is hasn’t been determined yet.

“I’m not sure about that yet,” she said, “But we’re going to come up with something.”

Other events in Polk County:


Auburndale City Beach

4-10 p.m. July 4

Food, entertainment, and a large fireworks display at 9 p.m.

Auburndale Chamber of Commerce 863-967-3400.


July 4th Celebration

3-10 p.m. July 4

2250 S. Floral Ave.

Fort Meade

Old Fort Meade July 4th at Patterson Park

4-9 p.m. July 4

601 N. Charleston Ave.

Lake Alfred

Lion’s Park, July 4

10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Little Miss & Mr. Lake Alfred Pageant, entertainment, a bass fishing tournament, car show, bounce house and slide, train rides for the children, food vendors. Pageant is 10-11 a.m. Bass tournament begins at daylight and ends with a 1 p.m. weigh-in. $75 per boat and $5 per person.

Call 863-291-5272 for event, 863-956-4990 for fishing tournament.


Annual July 4th Celebration in

Downtown Lakeland

6-9 p.m. July 3

121 S. Lake Ave.

Lake Wales

4th of July Celebration on the Shores of Lake Wales

2-9 p.m. July 4

East Park Avenue and North Lakeshore Boulevard

Eagle Ridge Mall

Noon-4 p.m., July 4

Rain or shine, free country concert by Glen and Friends, Motor Homes including one owned by NASCAR driver Mark Martin, antique cars, prize giveaways, vendors and free family entertainment including a live DJ, face painter, magician, temporary tattoo artist, psychic and more. In the event of rain, it’ll take place inside the mall.

Call 972-428-2944 or email

Winter Haven

Rock N’ Freedom Fest

7 p.m. July 3

Martin Luther King Park

Red, Brick & Boom at LEGOLAND

9 p.m. July 4, 2014-July 6

1 Legoland Way

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