Area residents will only have a handful of Fourth of July celebrations to enjoy this year as many events are canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Columbus, the Magnolia Motor Speedway will feature a Saturday night United Sprint Car Series race as well as local racing programs, which will be followed by its annual fireworks show, according to its website.
The pit gates will be open at 3 p.m., with grandstands opening at 5. Races will start at 7:30.
Johnny Stokes, owner of the Speedway, told The Dispatch people are encouraged to follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Masks are not required to enter the gate, he said.
Adult tickets are sold at $35 a piece for pit admission and $20 for grandstand admission. Kids between ages 6 and 10 can enter the pit for $25 each or the grandstand for $5 each, and those 5 and under can enter free with an adult. Trackside parking is available for $20 with a grandstand pass.
In Starkville, the annual Fourth of July celebration will take place as usual at the Starkville Sportsplex at 405 Lynn Lane. The event will only feature a fireworks show synchronized with music that starts at 9 p.m. Saturday.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, participants are encouraged to park in the lots and remain in or by their cars during the fireworks show, wear masks and practice social distancing, said Parks and Recreation Department Program Coordinator Lisa Cox. Roughly 500 parking spots are available for event goers, she said.
The event used to feature jumpers for kids, food vendors and music, Cox said. This year, she said, the celebration will be of a much smaller scale, and no barbeque stands or grills are allowed.
Still, she said, the city wants to provide something to celebrate the occasion.
“Unfortunately, we can’t have the whole event (apart from people) staying at their cars and watching the fireworks,” she said. “Just something for the population to enjoy on Fourth of July.”
Mayor Lynn Spruill said the fireworks show is to offer people a sense of normality amid the pandemic.
“It is intended as an opportunity for us to have some small amount of normal (feelings) without putting us in jeopardy,” she said. “All of this is fireworks, with no expectation of anyone getting out and interacting beyond what they want to. Obviously, masks and social distancing remain part of what we hope people will use as their rule of thumb of how they behave.”
Starkville Community Market, which takes place between 8 and 11 a.m. every Saturday, will be themed around July 4 this weekend as well, said Manager Paige Watson.
Yue Stella Yu was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.