UNDATED - The Fourth of July always has been one of my favorite holidays.  I'm not sure why, but it's probably because my small hometown of Maynard, Minnesota, is one of the many American communities that celebrates the Fourth with a festival.

Looking back, I have a lot of fond memories of the holiday.  When I was a little kid, my mom would always dress up my brother, sister, and me and enter us in the kiddie parade.  I remember being a firecracker one year, as well as the Farmer in the Dell, and the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz.  I also recall that every single year both my brother and my sister would win prizes, and I don't think I ever did -- not that I'm bitter or anything!  I guess it could have been worse, my mom dressed my brother up as Phyllis Diller one year.

When I got older, I graduated to the big parade, which meant riding my horse Star with the Maynard Saddle Club.  After the parade, it was back to the house where my mom and grandma had prepared a feast of fried chicken and other picnic foods.  There was usually a game or two of lawn darts (back before we knew they were dangerous), before heading out to the community park for whatever local entertainment was lined-up.  The day was always capped-off with a street dance and fireworks.  You just don't get much more All-American than that.

My little hometown still celebrates the Fourth of July every year, although I don't make it home for the celebration anymore.  Still, the nation's birthday just wouldn't seem right without spending the holiday at a festival or event somewhere.  Whether it's Joetown Rocks in St. Joseph, the Fireworks in St. Cloud, or one of the many other area events, I still celebrate the Fourth at a community festival  -- because that's what the holiday is all about to me.

Do you have fond memories from the Fourth of July?  I'd love to hear about them, just leave a few comments below.