2016 4th of July festivities: Billings and beyond

Originally printed in the June 2016 issue of Simply Family Magazine

It’s the day in which we come together as a country, unabashedly patriotic, and let freedom ring with celebrations of all kinds from parades and rodeos to magnificent fireworks. So pull out your red, white, and blue and let SFM help you plan for 2016’s Fourth of July weekend!



Known for lighting up the night sky with the “biggest fireworks display in the state,” it’s no surprise that over 30,000 people descend upon Laurel year after year to experience this incredible show. Before the booming fireworks take to the sky, people come rolling into town for the parade, food, vendors, and activities happening around town and in Thomson Park. This year the festivities are getting an earlier start with Laurel’s All-Class Reunion Celebration taking place on July 2. If you’re not an LHS graduate, then here’s what you need to know about where to be when:

July 4 Schedule

  • 6am-11am, Laurel Jaycees Pancake Breakfast Held at Fireman’s Park, Main and 1st Avenue ($6/adult, $4/children 12 and younger, 6 and younger eat free)
  • 6am- Sign-in for Chief Joseph Run- Thomson Park picnic shelter-6th Street; 6:30am- 8-mile start; 7am- 2 & 4 mile start. (Register up until July 3 at https://runsignup.com/Register/?raceId=17447)
  • 10am- Kiddie Parade - Begins at Western Security Bank, ends at Firefighter's Memorial (2nd Avenue and 1st Street)
  • 11am- The Grand Parade will stick with last year’s new route, starting at Alder on the East side of town
  • 9am-9pm- Food & Craft FairTasty eats, creative fare, activities, entertainment, and music in Thomson Park
  • The Main Event: Fireworks as soon as it gets dark! Thomson Park, Laurel High School’s lawn and beyond fills up quickly, so be sure to get there early to secure your spot.


Celebrate Freedom Festivities

Head out to Castle Rock Park in the Heights as Harvest Church once again offers an array of (free!) 4th of July activities planned for the whole family! Here’s a look at what you can expect from the day’s festivities:

July 4

  • 5-10pm- Celebrate Freedom Festivities- Free activities include face painting, temporary tattoos, inflatables, and games for all ages!
  • Expect live entertainment from Pan Blanco, Jon Buck & Reckless, and more!
  • Concessions (fresh lemonade, snacks, ice cream, ice pops, snow cones, soda and floats), along with nachos and BBQ brown bag ranging in price from $0.50-$3.
  • 9pm- Freedom Run- Nighttime run/walk for the whole family, follows a course lined with luminaries. Starts at Oasis Water Park, finishes at Castle Rock Park before the fireworks display. $25, advanced registration fee; $30, day of registration includes goodie bag with glow gear and event shirt. Register at FreedomDayBillings.com.
  • Stick around for the Fireworks show at dark!

For more information about the day’s festivities (or to volunteer) contact the church office at 259-5648, www.harvestchurch.tv.


Roundup Independence Days Extravaganza (RIDE)

Hit the highway and head to Roundup for their annual three day festival that’s all about celebrating western history and national pride. It’s concerts, fireworks, parades, and activities for all ages!

July 2 Schedule

  • 8am- Cowboy Church with pastor Dave Collins at Ridge Riders Arena, 405 12th Ave East (pretty informal, so don’t forget your lawn chair!)
  • 9:15-10am, check in- Buttons & Bows Youth Rodeo at Ridge Riders Arena. (Entries must be turned in and postmarked by June 25, for ages 3-18). More information: roundupindependencedays.com
  • 10:30am- Buttons & Bows Grand Entry
  • 7pm- Teddy Roosevelt Speaker/Actor by Humanities Montana

July 3 Schedule

  • 11am- Parade – Theme: Honoring Our Military
  • 12pm- Kids Kountry (all kinds of fun and activities for the kiddos!)
  • Evening Entertainment starting at 6pm at Roundup City Stage- First to the stage is Jason Larson, opening for Beatles Tribute Band, BritishMania!
  • Fireworks directly follow the evening entertainment

July 4 Schedule

  • 7:30am- 5K Fun Run-Walk-Ride starts at south end of Main Street. ($25 entry fee includes t-shirt)
  • 12pm- Parade down Main Street – Theme: Honoring Our Military
  • 2pm- Roundup Rodeo at Musselshell County Fairgrounds (RIDE wristband does not include admission to rodeo).
  • Evening Entertainment with Mr. Lonnie Bell as Master of Ceremony: 6pm- Cimarron Band, 7pm-David Frizzell Show with Paulette Carlson

Red Lodge Home of Champions Rodeo & Parades

It’s traditional 4th of July at its very finest in Red Lodge, MT. The Home of Champions Rodeo has been a part of the community for over eight decades! So pull on those boots for a “ropin’ and ridin, singin’ and swingin’ good time!

The Home of Champions Rodeo action runs:

  • July 2 @ 6pm
  • July 3 @ 6pm
  • July 4 @ 3pm

For tickets or more information call 406.446.1718 or go to http://redlodgerodeo.com. Rodeo tickets can be purchased in Billings at Shipton’s Big R East and West.

The parades start each day, promptly at noon, running from 16th Street-5th Street, with plenty of spots to spectate. This year’s theme is “Cowboys & Families Ride Together” with Grand Marshall, retired bull rider, Clint Branger leading the way with the American flag and his son Jake displaying Montana’s flag. Each day a special group/theme is recognized with a variety of prizes awarded. (P.S. There is NO fee for entering the parade)!

July 2 – Children’s Day

July 3 – Mining and Agricultural Appreciation Day

July 4 – Traditional Independence Day



Rodeo is a beloved piece of Montana’s puzzle and the Livingston Roundup Rodeo has been a part of that history for over 90 years! Make your way to this beautiful part of our state for three days of outstanding rodeo action!

July 2 Schedule

  • 3pm- Livingston Chamber of Commerce Parade, downtown Livingston
  • 8pm- Livingston Roundup Rodeo, Park County Fairgrounds. (Family Night & Fireworks)

July 3 Schedule

  • 7:45pm- Tough Enough to Wear Pink Live Auction
  • 8pm- Livingston Roundup Rodeo (Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night & Fireworks)

July 4 Schedule

  • 3pm- Kiddie Rodeo, Park County Fairgrounds. Snag autographs from Miss Livingston Roundup and Miss Rodeo Montana
  • 8pm- Livingston Roundup Rodeo (Military Night, Crowning of Miss Livingston Roundup, Fireworks)

For more information or to reserve tickets: 406.222.3199, http://livingstonroundup.com/tickets-2016.

West Yellowstone

Pack up your bags and pile in the car as you make your way to West Yellowstone for their annual 4th of July Celebration that includes “down home” fun, a parade, live music in the park, and fireworks!

  • 11am-‘til the food is gone! Fire Department Benefit BBQ in the Chamber Parking Lot/Dunbar Park (burgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs)
  • 1pm- Pie on the Porch: Pop by the porch of the historic Union Pacific Depot for a homemade slice of heaven from some of the best bakers in Montana.
  • 6pm- Parade, theme: Park Service Centennial
  • 7-10pm- Free live music in the park (Town Park)
  • 10pm, Fireworks (conditions permitting)

And while you’re there…

The Wild West Yellowstone Rodeo continues to be underway, with regular performances at 8pm, June-August (including July 1, 2, 4). For ticket information go to: www.yellowstonerodeo.com. And as an added bonus, one hour trail ride and 30 minute wagon ride packages are offered with rodeo tickets!

Cody, WY

Cody Stampede

Finally, rounding out our highlighted (longstanding) rodeo action is the Buffalo Bill Cody Stampede Rodeo (knocking on nearly 100 years of stellar rodeo action) where over 800 of the top contestants vie for a purse over $400,000 entitling it the PRCA's Largest One Header Rodeo!

  • July 1-3 @ 8pm, gates to open at 6pm, tickets $20/person
  • July 4 @ 5pm, gates to open at 3pm, tickets $25/person
  • And don’t miss the Cody Stampede Parade at 9:30am on July 3 & 4

For more information or to order tickets go to: www.codystampederodeo.com/events

Have some 4th of July celebrations to share? Send your information to localevents@simplyfamilymagazine.com

featured photo: American Flag photo credit: John Sonderman via Flickr | Fireworks photo credit © Jason Smith  Dreamstime Stock Photos