Hattiesburg, Petal planning new Independence Day Festival

Hattiesburg, Petal planning new Independence Day Festival
Source: WDAM

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A new Fourth of July festival may be heading to Forrest County.

The Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association and Petal Area Chamber of Commerce are working together to plan a combined celebration in both cities, bridged together by the Leaf River.

"There's just never been anything for the City of Hattiesburg or the City of Petal, so that's why we were looking to make that fit," said Andrea Saffle, Director of the HHDA.

Saffle said the events would be at Chain Park in Hattiesburg and River Park in Petal.  She said different live music, food vendors and activities for all ages would be at each of the parks.  Fireworks would be set-off from the Leaf River.

"They are directly across from each other, we can shoot fireworks," Saffle said.  "We've had the guys come out and picked the places where you can view it from both places."

Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker and Petal Mayor Hal Marx are both on board with the celebration.

"We share a riverfront on each side and it's been several years since the City of Petal has had a fireworks show," Marx said.  "It's something we've wanted to do, and I think it's a good time to start a tradition."

Saffle said the celebration will also mean a boost in local economy.

"Events like this, like a Fourth of July celebration, have a really large economic impact on the community," Saffle said.  "Not just the residents, but how far out that these kind of events will drive people."

Saffle said statistics show people will drive up to 50 miles to see a Fourth of July Celebration.  She hopes this type of event, the first of it's kind for both cities, may have more people staying locally instead of driving to the coast.

The celebration will be held on Tuesday, July 3, 2018, to avoid conflict with other long-running events in the Pine Belt, like the fireworks show at Paul B. Johnson State Park or the celebration on the Little Black Creek the weekend before.

"We just felt like this was a perfect fit, not in conflict with any of those, but geared specifically towards the sister cities," Saffle said.

The Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association and Petal Area Chamber of Commerce are looking for sponsors and business who would like to be a part of the event.  For more information you can contact Andrea Saffle with the HHDA at (601) 583-4329 or Valerie Wilson with the Petal Chamber of Commerce at (601) 583-3306.