Last week’s Fourth of July celebration in Ennis once again proved to be a success as Main Street was flooded with parade participants and spectators alike, soaking up the late morning sun before trickling out across town over to the rodeo grounds.
The annual event was marked by a full spectrum of people who came out to celebrate the nation’s independence, from local community members to regional fun seekers and even out-of-town tourists looking to see what the hype is all about.
The festivities kicked off Tuesday evening with the Northern Rodeo Association rodeo, and while it went late into the night the fun continued bright and early Wednesday morning with a pancake breakfast hosted by the Madison Valley Rural Fire Department. While some revelers took advantage of the fireman’s breakfast, others took in a classic car show at the Sportsman’s Lodge before heading downtown to line the streets in anxious anticipation for the parade.
Leading the parade were members of VFW Post 1723, who started at the high school parking lot and looped around in front of Madison Valley Manor before proceeding down Main Street. And while the deserving veterans proudly lead the way, serving as a symbol of freedom and independence, the floats that followed them put on a colorful and impressive display ranging from clowns to cowboys.
Madison County commissioner Jim Hart emceed this year’s parade, enjoying arguably the best seat in the house as he announced the individual entries from the second floor balcony of the old First Madison Valley Bank building. Afterwards he reflected on this year’s festivities as well as those in the past.
“It’s grown from the time I moved here in ’77 to what it is now, and it’s a proven fact that people come to the Madison Valley, to Ennis in particular, just to celebrate our version of the Fourth of July and they just think it’s terrific,” Hart said. “It’s an honor to be able to stand up there just talking about it.”
While it may not be visible on the casual spectator, Hart pointed out that the annual celebration is a tribute to members of the community who work together bringing the event to fruition. Without the hard work and dedication of people who donate their time and energy, the Fourth of July parade wouldn’t be what it is today.
“I think the biggest part that this shows is the sense of volunteerism in the Madison Valley,” he said.
Hart credited this years’ grand marshall Mary Oliver for helping to build the Fourth of July in Ennis into such a spectacular event.
“People say she is the voice of the parade, and she really is,” he said. “If it weren’t for her and all the contacts that she’s made over the years, this wouldn’t be the parade that it is now.”
This year parade judges selected the Madison Valley Women’s Club for the best local entry, and the Alder Side Saddle Gals for best out of town entry. The winner of the 50/50 raffle was Karen Rice, who walked away with $858.50.
When asked what the highlight of the event is every year, Hart answered that it’s being able to see people come together and share a laugh among the different generations. Not to mention those who go all-out for the parade.
“So it’s the variety of people, in my mind, who take the day to come celebrate in Smalltown USA,” he said. “It’s totally amazing.”