ROGERSVILLE – Fundraising for Rogersville’s July 4th Fireworks got a big boost last week thanks to Greeneville attorney and Hawkins County-born Crystal Jessee, who issued a $ 2,000 call for funds to all lawyers in Hawkins and the surrounding counties Get thrust.
Jessee then put her money where her mouth is and presented the fireworks co-organizer, Mark DeWitte, with a check for $ 2,000 ahead of the Hawkins County Commission meeting on Feb.25.
“I grew up in Hawkins County and I remember what this celebration meant to so many – young and old,” said Jessee. “I just felt compelled to do my part and challenge my colleagues and everyone else to raise money and uphold a time-honored tradition. I really appreciate those who tried to keep it going and I was excited to see Mark and Dr. (Blaine) Jones are back on board for at least this year. “
For nearly three decades, the Rogersville Fourth of July celebration was one of the most-attended one-day events in the area, featuring a full day of activities in Rogersville City Park, including a free, well-known entertainer to close the event and a grand fireworks display.
In the late 2000s and early 2010s, the event was reported to attract between 30,000 and 50,000 people.
Five years ago, the event lost $ 60,000 in sponsorship, causing Jones and DeWitte to retire from the organizing committee after 25 and 15 years of service, respectively.
In January, the committee that had organized Rogersville’s July 4th celebration for the past few years announced that it would disband due to a lack of manpower and fundraising.
Last month, event founders Jones and DeWitte agreed to resume it, despite saying the main goal is to make sure the fireworks aren’t canceled.
Jones told The Times News on Thursday that Rogersville’s July 4th fireworks will be 100% that year. The extent of these fireworks depends on the amount of money they collect, but for him “the sky’s the limit” (pun intended).
“We shot shows starting at $ 10,000,” said Jones. “It just depends on how much we get. I used to say Mark when we were about to do the big shows. If it’s up to me I’ll raise $ 100,000 and put on a show that will knock the side of the mountain down. “
As with other July 4th celebrations in the park, Jones said he wasn’t ruling out the possibility that there might be some activity. But there isn’t a lot of time, not a lot of staff, and not a lot of money to organize something big.
And then there’s the pesky old pandemic and the inability to predict what its status will be this summer.
“Just planning the fireworks is nothing compared to what we used to do,” said Jones. When it is feasible and certain to have something, we’ve called people like the Volunteer High School Jazz Band who want to come and perform. It won’t be hard to find people who want to come and do a little show when we can actually have a lot. The lady at Amis Mill Eatery spoke about food stalls when we can get something going. But I’m trying to reach out to local and state health officials to see what they think before we make any commitments. “
Jones added, “I think we could maybe reconcile a couple of things with an understanding that it might have to be canceled at the last minute. But there will definitely be fireworks. There can be very big fireworks. If that’s all we can do in the end, and we get a pretty good amount of money, we’re going to put on a show to remember. “
In the meantime, fundraising will continue.
Donations may be tax deductible under the umbrella of Four Square Inc., the 501c3 nonprofit that Jones and DeWitte operate in Rogersville.
Donations to fund the July 4th Rogersville Fireworks Display and other activities that can be arranged can be sent to Rogersville July 4th, PO Box 35, Rogersville, TN 37857.
Anyone interested in being a major sponsor can contact Dr. Contact Blaine Jones.