New Venue for Crozet Fireworks

Photo: Malcolm Andrews

Crozet’s tradition of a community fireworks show held at Crozet Park following the annual Independence Day parade was thrown into jeopardy last year as new housing developments close to the park’s perimeter made it impossible to launch a show safely from the ball fields. The fireworks were instead launched from the nearby former Barnes Lumber property, but that was a temporary solution that will be unavailable as construction eventually begins on the future downtown plaza.

Fortunately for Crozet, the Kings of King Family Vineyards (KFV) have stepped forward to offer their property as a host site for the fireworks show, and preparations are underway to make it a fun and familiar event for the community. Co-owner James King has filed a Special Use Permit request with Albemarle County for permission for the show, and this year’s Independence Day parade and fireworks event are scheduled for Saturday, June 29. The plan is that the Saturday before July 4 will be permanently reserved at KFV for Crozet’s celebration.

King Family Vineyards Co-owner James King (Photo: Malcolm Andrews)

The Crozet Independence Day Committee (CIDC) will work to coordinate events as in past years, with the addition of KFV’s James and Stuart King, Amanda Barber (Assistant General Manager), and Juan Delfin (Director of Hospitality) on the committee. Longtime CIDC member Tim Tolson, president of the Crozet Community Association, lauded the King family for their community-minded outreach. “KFV’s offer is free [for the community] but comes at a cost for KFV,” said Tolson. “For instance, they’ve promised not to accept weddings/receptions on the Saturday before the 4th of July. They are donating their space and costs, like the Special Use Permit (SUP) fees. It’s a generous offer they are making because they want to see the tradition of a parade, celebration, and fireworks continue.”

In the documents filed with the county, the Kings’ tentative plans for the event suggested that residents could begin heading to the vineyard after the conclusion of the Crozet Independence Day parade, and fireworks would begin around 30 minutes after sunset as in past years. The document proposed that a professional company could be used to direct parking for vehicles, as KFV has done with its Roseland polo matches, and the Crozet Trolley service will shuttle guests from central Crozet locations to KFV.

The permit request proposed launching the fireworks from Yonder Hill Farm, just north of the vineyard, which KFV said “would make an ideal backdrop for a fireworks display.” That location would provide “a large area on which the fireworks could be launched without coming close to the 500-foot buffer needed to launch a 5-inch mortar.” That size mortar is nearly twice as big and can rise twice as high in the sky as those customarily used in the Crozet Park shows.

The SUP recommended that 10 food trucks be on site for the event, and a stage for bands to perform will be set up at the north end of the David L. King polo field. KFV’s signature wines as well as beer will be on sale at various locations around the property. KFV will have to purchase a special Manufacturer’s License, regulated and monitored by the Virginia ABC, to be allowed to sell beer on site for that day. 

It’s expected that some portion of beer sale proceeds will be donated back to Claudius Crozet Park, as the fireworks display has historically been part of the park’s annual fundraising. In addition, the application suggests that “a variety of activities for both kids and adults alike could be programmed on or around the polo field,” such as “kettle corn sales, face painting, kids’ crafts, corn hole tournament, inflatable pony hop races, ring toss, and dunk tank.”

Though KFV is not required to apply for the SUP for a venue change if the event hosts fewer than 2,000 people (as it has in the past), they are pursuing the permit in hopes that the celebration will grow. While James King expects concerns regarding traffic, environmental impacts, and noise to be raised as the permit is considered by county officials, he’s confident that KFV and the CIDC have solid plans in place for all contingencies. Once thing he can’t control is the pace of the bureaucratic process.

“While I hope the SUP is approved in time for us to host, it’s okay if it’s not,” said King. “I’d rather do something slowly and well rather than quickly and poorly. The Barnes Lumber yard will still likely be available this summer [as a fallback]. With that being said, we’re excited to be a solution, hopefully, whether this year or next, to the housing encroachment that’s taken place at the park. Crozet has grown tremendously over the past two decades and we hope that events like this, wherever they are hosted, provide those who attend an opportunity to spend time relaxing with their family and friends and to get to know their neighbors.”

Tolson said that the aim is to bring the great traditions of the fireworks show to the new space. “For the CIDC, it’s a change of venue (from Crozet Park to KFV) to enable much better, higher fireworks,” he said. “Otherwise, the day stays the same—the parade from Crozet Elementary to Crozet Park, the music, etc. We’ll continue to take donations as folks come in [at KFV] so that folks who can’t afford to donate will still come and enjoy the celebration. We want to continue the mix of folks, new and old timers, young and old, families, couples, singles. As with past events we hope that all who live, work, or play in the greater Crozet area will come enjoy and celebrate the country’s independence!” 


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