OTTUMWA — Next week will be filled with a slew of events celebrating Independence Day.
The week will kick off with a reading of the Declaration of Independence outside the Ottumwa Public Library at 6:15 p.m. Monday.
Two days later, the first Bowling RV Summer Fest will fill Ottumwa Park for a day filled with music and food. The event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday, will feature campers on display, three bands and food and beverages.
"It's actually my 25th anniversary of being here, so we're just basically doing it as a thank you to our customers and to the local people," said Randy Bowling of Bowling Motors. "It's a basic thing we wanted to do to promote Ottumwa, promote our business and get people involved. You hear so many times that there's nothing to do and nowhere to go."
If the festival becomes an annual event, Bowling said he would like to bring in bigger and bigger names to provide entertainment for the crowd.
"We're doing it more for the community than for us," he said. "It's costing us money; we're not charging anybody to come. And it allows a lot of people that would never get the opportunity to go see a big-name band to go see one, see it for free and be in the front row."
No Justice, a country band that recently performed at Bridge View Center in January, will headline the event.
Next year, Bowling hopes to get another big country name, such as Jason Aldean or Luke Bryan.
"If it goes over well and people have fun, maybe next year we'll get a bigger band and charge $10.50 to get in, but for now we want people to show up and enjoy the atmosphere," he said. "That's all we care about."
One thing is still in limbo: which organization a portion of the funds from a cash vault will go toward. People will have the opportunity to enter a six-digit pin into the cash vault and if it opens, they will win a $50,000 RV with $50,000 cash inside.
Campers will be set up in the park starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday for tours and to sign up for a drawing for a new, $8,000 Rockwood fold-down camper, as well as other prizes.
Then the "gates," so to speak, will open at 5 p.m. for food, drinks and entertainment.
Bands performing at the festival include:
— Mr. Fugly at 6 p.m.
— Bob "BoBo" Davidson at 7:15 or 7:30 p.m.
— No Justice at 9:15 or 9:30 p.m.
The second annual Fourth of July Family Jamboree will pick up the festivities at noon Thursday and continue through Friday.
The event, first organized by Ottumwa Councilman Brian Morgan last year, will continue next week with bluegrass and country music, flea market vendors and a Naval Air Station display and merchandise, all running from noon to 10 p.m.
Morgan previously noted that the idea for the event was inspired by Wapello County Supervisor Jerry Parker's former "Family Camporee" in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The Ottumwa Municipal Band will perform at 7 p.m. Thursday prior to the fireworks display, which will launch from the west side of Ottumwa Park near Quincy Place Mall, said Parks Director Gene Rathje.
The week will end with the first "Live After Five" of the summer on Friday in Central Park, sponsored by South Ottumwa Savings Bank. The Tom Blew Band will perform from 5-7:30 p.m., and food and beverages will be available.
— To follow reporter Chelsea Davis on Twitter, head to @ChelseaLeeDavis.
Schedule of area Fourth of July celebrations:
July 3: Burgers, hot dogs, desserts and ice cream served from 5-7 p.m. at the fire station. Street dance with band Still Kickin' from 7-10 p.m. between the fire station and the bank.
July 4: Parade at 10 a.m., followed by the Agency Lions BBQ in the Agency Lions Park. Children's games and activities at 12:30 p.m. in the park.
July 5: Supper in the park at 5 p.m., followed by watermelon seed shooting contest and baseball pitching contest. Movie "The Blind Side" shown at 9 p.m.
July 4-6: Fort Bloomfield annual three-day rodeo. Nightly performances begin at 7:30 p.m. at Davis County Fairgrounds covered pavilion. Slack follows performances July 5-6. Fireworks follow rodeo performances on July 4.
July 4: Flag raising at 6:45 a.m. "By the Dawns Early Light" 5K run/walk at 7 a.m. Kids cutie contest at 10:30 a.m. Pie contest at noon. Motorcycle poker run departs at noon. Citizen of the year announced at 6:45 p.m. Elvis arrives at 7 p.m. Fireworks at dusk. All day activities include open mic on the stage, flea market and car, motorcycle and gas engine shows.
July 4: Fireworks at dusk at Waterworks Park.
July 4: Pancake and sausage breakfast from 6-10 a.m. Lunch at 2 p.m. Kids games at 2 p.m. in city park, featuring petting zoo, bounce house and train rides. Kids pedal pull at 4 p.m. (sign up at 3:30 p.m.). Silver mine at 5 p.m. Reading of Declaration of Independence at 5 p.m., followed by play, "Charles Carroll, the Last One Standing," at Congregational UCC Church. Live entertainment at 6 p.m. featuring The Harvest Band and performances by Carson Schuck. Fireworks at dusk.
July 4: Fireworks will follow the Ottumwa Municipal Band's performance at Jimmy Jones Shelter in Ottumwa Park. Parks Director Gene Rathje said the fireworks will begin around 10 p.m.
July 4: Keokuk County Expo Raceway gates open at 5:30 p.m. for annual truck and tractor pull. Fireworks will follow at dusk.