The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Bonnie Davidson
The Courier 

Glasgow's Fireworks: Hartsock Lights It Up

It's Not A Big Bang Theory, It's A Tradition At Valley County Fairgrounds


Fireworks haven't always been a tradition in the county seat. Hinsdale has a longer history of a parade and fireworks that follow in the evening, but a few years back Gene Hartsock thought enough people in Glasgow wanted a display closer to town and he decided to look into what it might take.

This year the Forth of July fireworks display will shoot off from the Valley County Fairgrounds. Hartsock started helping with obtaining a special license to purchase the fireworks for a class reunion in 2006. He explained that he heard people talking about how they wanted the fireworks in town and went for it, but they had to set up some special precautions.

“There weren't fireworks for a long time, not out here anyway, but there used to be out on the Dredge Cuts,” Hartsock said.

As fireworks aren't allowed within a mile of city limits of Glasgow, it's the only big show around. Fireworks are allowed in the county, usually until July 5, but that's sometimes extended over weekends. Long Run Fire Chief Bob “Sparky” Hansen also mentioned that some fireworks bought on the reservations might not be legal in the county.

Hartsock has worked on raising funds each year for the fireworks in Glasgow. He doesn't go door to door, or solicit businesses, but you might find a fireman's boot out somewhere, or see them on the streets a few times collecting cash from cars. Each year the goal is to reach $5,000 to purchase the fireworks.

This year they raised over that amount, around $6,000, but that amount was needed for additional training and new electronic equipment that will make the process safer and reduce the number of firefighters needed. Instead of the 10 to 12 firefighters it takes to light off a show, only three or four will be needed. Hartsock said that more firefighters will be able to spend time with their families for the holiday.

While many point the finger at Hartsock for the display of fireworks, he points the fingers back to others who help. The firefighters who give up their time to wait in firetrucks on standby and to help light off the display are people he greatly appreciates.

“The guys do a good job, they're dedicated,” Hartsock said. “A lot of people come together to do this.”

Donations from Reynolds, Albertsons and other local businesses come in to help out the display. And a few special ladies who step in to help, Hartsock mentions Susan Fast and Twila Isakson as being major components to getting the annual show set up.

Several volunteers just show up to help with the boot drive each year as well, which usually helps raise much of the funds needed. This year the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce helped with some of the work as well.

While Hartsock has enjoyed his time working with the fireworks, he hopes to pass the torch on to another volunteer in the future. Explaining that the process each year to keep the license to purchase the fireworks can get tiresome.

Paperwork must be filled into the federal government, and an interview with the FBI is required. They need to know the specifics on when and where the fireworks are going to be delivered and stored, as well as where they'll be disposed of. Several requirements can weigh down the process and Hartsock said he's getting older.

Each year the show has been a good one, with only one year the fireworks show had to be postponed due to wind. Hartsock said that the 30 minute show brings the community together and somehow food shows up to the event.

While the new electronic equipment could potentially be used this year for the show, most likely it won't get use until next year, allowing for extra time for training. Hartsock that it will also free up some firefighters to respond to the fires that start around the county during the holiday.


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