By Lindsay Starr Platt
Thursday at Yettie Polk Park lunch was the annual Fourth of July Kick-off Barbeque for the community. Almost 200 attendees came to the park to enjoy barbecue plate lunches and a concert.
“It’s exciting. It is like a homecoming for the community and the Fourth of July,” said Mark Arrazola, President, Belton Chamber of Commerce. “This is really a great way to have the Fourth of July kicked off.”
Community members young and old sat next to each other at long tables family-style and enjoyed food and fellowship. As they ate barbecue or sausage sandwiches, they had a chance to talk and listen to music. Many people come to Belton just once a year for the Fourth of July festivities, and the barbecue is one of those many events where they get the chance to catch up with old friends.
“I love this event; it brings our community together. It ramps up the excitement for the festivities of the parade and rodeo and the great job the city and the chamber do,” said Joey Peters, ambassador, Belton Chamber of Commerce.
Well-known Belton restaurant, Shoepf’s BBQ, provided the food for the plate sale. Most lunches were eaten at the park, though a few attendees came by to get carry-out before going back to work.
“I am just excited to be a part of this event,” said Sue Jordan, volunteer. “This is home, this is my Belton and I am glad to help out.”
Country music singer Holly Tucker provided the music, which was almost like a private concert. Tucker is known for making her career debut on the television show ‘The Voice’.
“It is awesome,” said Judy Garret, Tourism Director, Belton Chamber of Commerce. “It is great to bring Holly Tucker back.”
“I’m just really excited to be back. I also performed at the Rodeo Rendezvous. Doing this event really helps the people and the town kick-off the Fourth of July,” said Tucker. “Belton has always treated me like I was a hometown girl, even though I am from Waco. Can’t be more thankful for that. I am going to be in the parade on Monday and then back here from noon till 2. It’s going to be hot, but a good performance.”
After Tucker was done performing at high-noon was a little old west entertainment. The Coryell County Cowgirls had a high-noon shootout depicting a scene from an old west saloon. Gunshots blasted and one saloon girl was left holding a gun, from a love triangle gone bad.
“We have been coming every year for a long time. We just enjoy coming over to Belton. Just kind of kicks of the Fourth of July and it is great to see all the people,” said Sue Mengers, Temple resident.
“The shoot-out is always fun,” said Dale Mengers, Temple resident. “Friends meeting with friends and celebrating the Fourth of July.”
Many of the attendees to the barbecue were city employees. Not all city employees work in the same sector. This event gives them a rare chance to eat with fellow employees they may not even get a chance to visit.
“The City of Belton treats all of its employees to lunch,” said Paul Romer, Public Information Officer, City of Belton. “The public works guys work hard in the heat every year helping get the parade and festival ready.”