Enthusiastic excitement is in the air as final preparations are underway for the Yellow Trail Museum's Old-Fashioned Independence Day celebration and Main Street of Hope’s July Cruise-In set to begin at 5 p.m. Friday on the Hope Town Square.

The dovetailing events offer a unique opportunity to bring even more people to the town of Hope, organizers say.

“The best part is seeing everyone come out and be a community,” says Trina Newton, event organizer assisting with Old-Fashioned Independence Day preparations.

Presented by Main Street of Hope and featuring the musical talent of Roger Banister and the Banister Family Bluegrass Band, July’s Cruise-In will kick off the evening’s festivities at 5 p.m. and the Banisters will take the bandstand stage from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Hope Town Manager Jason Eckart says last month’s cruise-in brought nearly 100 cars to the Hope Town Square and an estimated $1,000 was raised.

“Half of that will go to the Student’s Fund of Hope,” Eckart says. “Since May’s cruise-in had less turnout, we are going to give an additional $250 to the Hope Food Bank, who were the recipients that month.”

This month, proceeds from the car show will benefit the Yellow Trail Museum, Eckart adds.

The Banister Family Bluegrass Band is no stranger to Hope’s bandstand as they’ve been playing the Old-Fashioned 4th for five years or so, says lead singer and mandolin player Roger Banister.

“It’s one of my favorite gigs,” he says. “It’s a throwback and gives me a chance to look back to a simpler time with my parents and when we would go with them around the area.”

But it isn’t just fond memories that bring the Banisters back, there’s a certain vibe that is something to be experienced, Banister says.

“I like the whole vibe of the Square, it is very relaxing,” Banister says. “We have a lot of friends who like to come because they like the chilled, relaxed environment. It is a little smaller and less frantic than a lot of July 4th celebration events. It’s nice to have it where the community comes together and hangs out on the Square. I like being a part of that.”

Banister says in addition to the chill vibes and good company he comes back for the food. 

“You gotta love the fried fish,” he says. “And the homemade pies and ice cream. If I had to choose between the three, just because I never get it, the homemade ice cream would be my go-to.”

And Banister isn’t alone in his anticipation for tasty treats Friday night.

Newton says there will be more food vendors than in previous years.

True to years’ past, among available delectable delights will be fresh fish frying and plenty of brauts and hot dogs on the grill courtesy of the Hope Volunteer Fire Department and the Boy Scouts of America respectively, Newton says.

When it comes to sweets, however, there will be one big change.

“Kappa Kappa Sigma is not doing the homemade ice cream, they are doing funnel cakes,” Newton says. “But the Wesleyan church ladies here in Hope have offered to provide ice cream to go with the apple pies for the apple pie contest.”

Shortly before the Banisters take the stage, games and crafts will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Those participating in the apple pie contest will have until 6:30 p.m. to register and judging will begin at 6:45 p.m.

Attendees are encouraged to bring more than just their appetites as there are going to be plenty of games and activities for people and kiddos of all ages, Newton says, including sack races, balloon toss, and watermelon seed spitting contest.

By dusk blankets and lawn chairs will undoubtedly dot the Town Square landscape as everyone gathers for the evening’s fireworks finale that will be set off from the west side of the Square just behind the Yellow Trail Museum at dark.

Newton says this event is huge for the town and rightfully so because it’s about more than just food and fireworks.

“I grew up in Hope and moved away for a bit but came back because this is where my roots are,” Newton says. “Hope prides itself on being that small-knit community where everyone kind of knows everyone and getting together it is just like a big family.”