Weston folks know how to treat themselves to a rollicking good Fourth of July parade.
They know how to participate: Show up, line up and proceed purposefully down Main Street.
And they know how to spectate: “The weather is great. We’re in the shade. And it’s a pretty good parade for a little town,” said Gretchen Hanson of Weston.
Hanson watched Saturday’s parade from the porch of a downtown building with her parents, Jim and Carolyn Hogan of Kansas City, North.
Carolyn Hogan said she and her husband grew up in a small town and that’s part of the reason they enjoy visiting Weston.
If you ask Pat Egan, that was the plan: “We wanted a gathering with a small-town feel to celebrate everything good about America.”
Egan is president of the Weston Chamber of Commerce. He drove his 1953 Chevrolet woody wagon in the parade.
Classic and antique cars played a prominent role in the parade along with fire trucks, tractors, tow trucks, commercial vehicles and Floyd Liberty’s toy train.
“I thought the grandkids might like this,”' Liberty said about the toy train he purchased earlier in the year.
Liberty drove the miniature train in Saturday’s parade: a locomotive powered by a riding lawn mower that pulled four kid-sized cars. He filled the cars with two grandchildren, a great-grandbaby and a 10-year-old friend of the family.
A Weston resident since 1962, Liberty said the parade was a good way to get local people together.
Completing the old-fashioned, small-town feel of the procession were parade participants throwing candy to the crowd and volunteers walking the route handing out folding fans and fliers.
The parade was organized by the chamber to rebuild an Independence Day observance after a fireworks display, sponsored by a local organization, was discontinued after more than three decades.
Grand marshals for the parade were Patrick and Deann Farnan of Weston. Later this month, the chamber will honor the memory of the Farnans’ son, Colby Farnan, who was killed in 2005 while serving with the U.S. Army in Iraq. He was a 2000 graduate of West Platte High School.
On Sunday night, the “Remembering Our Fallen” exhibit arrives in Weston. The exhibit is a national war memorial featuring photos of members of the military who have died in war zones since Sept. 11, 2001.
The parade and the exhibit serve as reminders “to be grateful for our freedoms,” Deann Farnan said.
The grand opening of the national exhibit will be on Monday at the Masonic Lodge at 507 Main St.
Farnan’s memorial display will be in the chamber office at 526 Main St.
“We’re kicking off a two-week observance of our country’s independence and commitment to our troops,” Egan said.
On the other side of the county line in Liberty, outdoor cooks observed another Fourth of July tradition Friday as they grilled ribs, brisket, pork and poultry in a two-day barbecue contest.
Twenty-seven teams participated in the Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned contest during Liberty4thFest.
Culinary skills and the right wood are crucial to good barbecue, said Danny Bevan, 60, of Liberty. He and his wife, Debbie Bevan, spend half the year in Florida where “barbecue is horrible. They don’t have the wood or the expertise.”
Bevan said the best wood comes from hickory, apple and cherry trees. The Bevans have been barbecuing since 1987 and made a living by doing so from 1995 to 2004 when they owned Outlaw’s BBQ & Saloon in Kearney.
In addition to the meat competition, teams also competed with desserts prepared on the premises.
Renee Boles won first place in the dessert category with her Fourth of July Fruit Tart — a sweet salute to the red, white and blue with strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream.
She and her husband, Ed Boles, are members of the Beer & Butts Que team from Lee’s Summit: four friends who “make really good barbecue,” as Erik Maxwell explained. Richard Murphy is the other team member.
While it’s the cooking that counts in competition, clean-up is important, too.
That job falls to another member of the team who takes her responsibility seriously.
Ever on the lookout for food inadvertently dropped on the ground is team mascot, Serenity, an 8-year-old table scrap retriever with a preference for brisket.