FORT BENNING, GA (WTVM) - This year's Independence Celebration will be a two-day event at Fort Benning.
It will start with a carnival on Gardner Field (adjacent to York Field) Friday, June 24 from 4-10 p.m. and continue Saturday, June 25 from 3-10 p.m. with the traditional celebration on York Field, which includes tons of great activities and fireworks.
As always, this event is free and open to the public. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.
Guests can purchase $15 wristbands for unlimited carnival rides for one day or a $20 band for two days.
Bands will be available on site and in advance beginning Wednesday, June 8 on the second floor of the Benning Club weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Though the highlight of the Independence Celebration is always the finale, the largest, grandest fireworks show in the Chattahoochee Valley (sponsored by Opelika Ford Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram!,) you'll also enjoy concerts, shows, games, rides and great food.
Kia AutoSport of Columbus will give away a 2016 Kia Soul to one lucky active duty servicemember or the spouse of a servicemember on June 25.
Register now at this link.
Bluegrass/Country artists Ruthie Collins will headline the show on the Ranger Joe's Stage following the MCoE Band, a demonstration by the Silver Wings and a "Fries & Spies" Ranger tactical operations demonstration.
Guests will be offered the chance to jump from a 34-foot-tall airborne training tower during this event. (Note: if the temperature rises above 95 degrees, they may have to cancel or temporarily halt the tower jump event.)
Food and beverage vendors only accept tokens, which are $1 each. You will be refunded for unused tokens, so load up early and save yourself a return trip to the token trailer.
You can also purchase ahead of time, weekdays between 8am-4:30pm on the second floor of the Benning Club, and return unused tokens there afterward for a refund.
Saturday, Safety Cab will offer free rides home to Soldiers who enjoy adult beverages during the event. Call 706-326-3027.
I don't understand why you don't have this event on July 4th?
We get that a lot. Just as we wouldn't think of hosting our Christmas activities on Christmas Day, we choose to host this event the weekend before the holiday, because most of our Soldiers and their families are given the opportunity to travel home for the holiday. We don't think they should have to choose between this fabulous free event and their own family traditions. If this totally messes with your mind, you can still purchase sparklers at the PX.
I don't have a military ID. Do I need a visitor's pass?
We will have a special visitor's lane for quick access at the 185 gate Saturday, July 25. You will not have to stop for a pass, but everyone in your car 16 or older should be prepared to show an ID. From the 185 gate, follow the signs straight onto Main Post and you'll be directed to York Field.
Now here's where it gets confusing, so stay with me. For the carnival Friday, we will not have a visitor's lane, so drivers who don't have access to post will be required to stop at the Visitor's Center at the 185 gate. The process should take about 15 minutes. (For your convenience, you may pick up a visitor's pass any day of the week before the event, starting June 20, at the Visitor's Center at the 185 gate.)
Where do I park?
Parking will be available around McGinnis-Wickam Hall, at Smith Fitness Center and near the ranges along Dixie Road.
Can we bring coolers?
Certainly, but you may not bring alcohol. We will have a great variety of food and beverages available.
Can we bring pets?
No, unless you have a service animal (and the appropriate paperwork, please,) leave your adorable dog at home.
I thought this was a free event; what's the deal with tokens?
For safety and convenience, our vendors only accept tokens for all food and beverages. (Admission is free, as well as the entertainment, children's activities, fireworks and parking.) Tokens are $1 each, and you get a full refund for tokens you do not use, unless you choose to save them for the next fabulous event. To avoid those long lines at the token trailer on York Field, get your tokens early, between 8am-4:30pm weekdays on the second floor of the Benning Club, Building 128, starting June 8. You can purchase tokens with cash, debit or credit cards. You will find an ATM on York Field during the event.
Where do I go to complain about the crowd of basic trainees?
Don't. They are the reason Fort Benning exists; we are a training installation. Buy them a funnel cake, wish them well and thank them for their willingness to serve.
Will there be shade?
Yes, we will erect a large tent with fans, but it's typically crowded, so you may bring your own small canopy and erect it toward the back of York Field in the designated areas where it will not interfere with your neighbor's view of the stage. Bring lawn chairs and blankets, too; make yourselves comfortable.
What if it rains?
Sadly, it happens. In that case, we will have the fireworks show only at dark on Sunday, June 26. There will be no rides or vendors. We will keep you informed on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/BenningFMWRfans.
Can you list the carnival rides?
I can; I'm just that good: Flying Dutchman, Himalaya, Ring of Fire, Starship, Expo Wheel, Bumper Cars, Sizzler, Sea Ray, Surf Shack, something called a Scat, Tornado, Bear Affair, Dizzy Dragons, Speedway, Orient Express, Elephants & Dragons, Quad Runner, Tea Cups, my favorite, the Giant Slide and the Merry-Go-Round.
Do you have a tentative schedule of events?
Friday, June 24 from 4-10 p.m., we will host a carnival on Gardner Field, which is adjacent to York Field on Eckel Avenue. Then Saturday, June 25, from 3-10:30ish p.m., on York Field (subject to change):
• 3-10 p.m. - Refreshments, children's activities, carnival rides
• 3-6 p.m. - 34' jump towers
• 4:45-6:15 p.m. - MCoE Band
• 6:15-6:45 p.m. - Silver Wings (set change)
• 6:45-6:55 p.m. - Fries & Spies
• 6:55-8:55 p.m. - Concert by Ruthie Collins
• 9:15-10 p.m. - MCoE Band Concert
• 10-10:30 p.m. - Fireworks choreographed to MCoE Band music