Dallas Co. celebrates 4th

Published 11:56 pm Saturday, July 4, 2009

Richard Dempsey took the Rib-off here for the second year in a row.

But the victory was bittersweet.

The Valley Grande Exchange Club sponsored the event for the city’s July 4 celebration. Last year, when the city sponsored the event, Dempsey and his partner, Donnie Kelly, took high honors.

Email newsletter signup

On Friday morning, Dempsey was on his way to Birmingham with his wife. The Rib Cook-Off was a done deal. He and Kelly would do their magic on the grill once again in hopes of repeat.

Then came the telephone call.

Kelly was killed in an automobile accident.

Dempsey grieved for his friend, but decided to go ahead and honor his partner by participating in the event. Jeff Persinger of Selma stepped in.

Dempsey and Persinger took first place.

“This is dedicated to Donnie Kelly,” Dempsey said.

Added Persinger, “He was a good man.”

While the grieving continued, it seemed fitting in a way to also celebrate what Kelly meant to his friends at this July 4 event.

Elsewhere in Dallas County, thousands of folks poured into Taylorville on U.S. Highway 80 to watch the Rev. Gary Crum’s firework’s display. So many cars lined up to see the show that the fireworks display was delayed by 30 minutes to allow everybody in.

During the earlier portion of the evening, Selma Mayor George Evans thanked Dr. Bruce Taylor for opening up his family entertainment center and working with Crub of Discount Fireworks to put on the annual show.

The City of Selma had said it would have to forgo the event this year because of a tight economy. Taylor stepped in and offered to make up the difference.

Folks came from all over to Taylorville, early in the afternoon. Kim Threat of Knoxville, Tenn., sat a a picnic table under one of the pavilions with her sister, Alisa Summerville of Selma.

“It’s just the two of us. We’re enjoying the festivities this Fourth of July, just mingling,” Threat said. “We’re showing our patriotic spirit.”

Many folks took the day to throw some meat on the grill or gather with family members.

Wayne Craft and Bruce Hatch spent their afternoon over a hot fryer filled with funnel cakes. Craft fried the cakes and Hatch added the powdered sugar that gave the their sweetness.

“We’re just getting started,” Craft said as he eased a cake into the hot grease about 5 p.m. over at the Valley Grande Walking Park. By that time, he and Hatch had served up about 30 of the delicacies

“It’s just now kicking up,” Craft said.

Valley Grande Mayor Tom Lee said each year the celebration is just like a family reunion.

“That’s the atmosphere,” Lee said. “It’s a laid back thing.”