It takes a village: How Junction City puts on one of the state’s largest 4th of July celebrations

Local News

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (KSNT) – Sundown Salute in Junction City came to a close Sunday night.

The event is a long-standing tradition in Junction City. 

Not only does it celebrate the 4th of July, it also celebrates community pride.

For 43 years, Sundown Salute has been bringing in thousands of people each July for a week filled with food, music, fireworks and everything in between.

Mary Henning has been coming out to Sundown Salute since 2005.

“At the time, Sundown Salute was billing itself as the largest 4th of July celebration in Kansas and it certainly was,” said Henning. “It was really wonderful. It was huge.”

Sundown Salute is a five-day event that’s free for the public to attend, making it the largest free multi-day 4th of July celebration in the state.

For committee members, seeing people come back year after year and enjoying the event makes all of the work they put into it worth it.

“Every night when we are getting ready to start the music, and just listening to the crowd either sing along or get excited, that just makes me so happy,” said committee member Patricia Verschage.

It takes a year’s worth of planning to book bands, bring in vendors and find sponsors to help fund the event.

“It takes a village,” said Verschage. “It really does. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication.”

This year all of the hard work seemed to have paid off. Organizers said it’s been one of their best years yet.

“The community itself as a whole helped put this together and came out and supported the event,” said committee chair Michele Stimatze. “Junction City rocked this year and we’re hoping it’s even better next year.”

Sunday’s festivities featured a church service in the morning, a petting zoo and carnival in the afternoon and performances from Kaylee Keller and Josh Wilson in the evening.

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