Joey Joslin fireworks

Joey Joslin, Hanford Chamber of Commerce executive director, holds up wristbands the organization is selling. Proceeds from the wristbands will go the the Chamber's annual Fourth of July fireworks show.

HANFORD — The Fourth of July may seem like it’s far off, but the holiday is just six weeks away and the Hanford Chamber of Commerce is in the middle of planning something huge this year.

“It’s going to be something different than anything we’ve ever seen here in Hanford,” Joey Joslin, Hanford Chamber of Commerce executive director, said.

Traditionally, the fireworks show has been at the Neighbor Bowl. The Kings County Fairgrounds was used a couple times in 2011-2012, but led to complaints by patrons about having to pay for what had previously been a free show.

The event returned to the Neighbor Bowl in 2013, but still didn’t drum-up the turnout the Chamber wanted, according to a previous Sentinel article.

Joslin said the last several years, the Chamber and its board have tried to figure out how to put the event on without losing money.

Since taking over in December, Joslin said he’s tried to infuse his motto, “new board, new director, new direction,” into everything the Chamber does. And Fourth of July was no exception.

This year, the Chamber is moving the event to the Kings Fairgrounds and Joslin said he found new sponsors to make the show bigger, better and longer than it has ever been.

“We’ll be on par with some of the other big fireworks shows here in the Central Valley,” Joslin said, adding the official name of the event is the Big Bad Boom Fireworks Show.

One of the new sponsors will be Momentum Broadcasting, which owns several local radio stations.

Joslin said the idea is to synchronize the fireworks show to music played at the raceway. He said the best part, however, is that the same music will be broadcast at the same time across KIOO 99.7, Momentum’s classic rock station.

“So if you live within eyesight, you’ll be able to tune into the radio station and hear the same music that everyone in the grandstand is hearing as the explosions are going off,” Joslin said.

He said this is a bigger market type of thing and he doesn’t know of any other city in the area that is doing anything similar. Joslin said he thinks fireworks set off to a classic rock soundtrack will add a great effect to the night.

“Us doing this is bringing something totally new to the community,” Joslin said.

Along with that new element, Joslin said using the fairgrounds adds more possibilities, including being open earlier, more food vendors, a beer and wine garden and live music. He said the live acts aren’t confirmed yet, but he will try to get local favorites to kick the night off.

Joslin said the goal of the event is for the community to come together, eat, drink, socialize and just have a great time. There will also be plenty of activities and even some bounce houses for the kids.

“I think it’s going to be kind of all inclusive,” Joslin said. “Give everyone an option of things that they may want to do out there.

When the time comes, attendees will move from the center of the fairgrounds to the raceway for the fireworks show.

If people don’t want to sit in the stands, Joslin said they will be more than welcome to take a blanket and set up in the grassy area of the grounds to watch. He knows it’s always hot on July 4 and said there’s plenty of shade at the fairgrounds.

Tradition is hard to break and he doesn’t want to take anything away from the events in the past, but Joslin said he just wants to show that the Chamber is trying to do something different and put on a better event for the people of Hanford.

In order to remain appealing to the community, the event will remain free and parking will be free as well. Joslin said he wants to make sure the July 4 festivities remained something the Chamber would continue to do for the entire community.

With a growing community and a growing group of young people in Hanford, Joslin said the Chamber had to be innovative and offer something new.

The Chamber of Commerce board is also very excited about the possibilities for the event.

Board member Jason Usher said the Chamber is trying to bring the excitement back into the holiday and reinvigorate the town and the community. He said the event has been stagnant the past few years and the goal is to attract more people.

Along with an increase in vendors and the addition of live music, Usher said he’s looking forward to the fireworks show, which is shaping up to be about 10 minutes longer than in past years.

With an event of this scale, cost is a major factor. Joslin expects to spend around $50,000-$60,000.

Because he doesn’t want Chamber members or the city to deal with cost overruns, Joslin is putting out a call to any businesses that would like to become sponsors. He said every dollar helps and it’s also a good way for businesses to get more involved with the community.

The Chamber of Commerce will also have a booth at Thursday Night Market Place selling red, white and blue wristbands in support of the fireworks show. A minimum of $10 donation for the wristband will go toward the event.

At the end of night, Joslin said the Chamber just wants to be able to say they put on a great free community event.

He said he hopes to get at least 6,000 people to show up to the fireworks show this year and hopefully embrace it so it continues to grow.

“We want to make sure that everyone who comes to this community sees something that they may not get to see everywhere else,” Joslin said.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2423 or jzavala@hanfordsentinel.com

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