Celebrating Independence Day the Webster County way

Gowrie, Otho offer variety of events on Fourth of July weekend

-Messenger file photo by Chad Thompson Mary Patterson, of Gowrie, leads the Fourth of July parade on Saturday last year. Her father, the late John Lizer, led the parade for many years.

Gowrie Fourth of July schedule of events

Friday, July 2

• American Legion Peterson Post #431 pork loin dinner, 5:30 p.m. at the city park shelter house

• BINGO, 7 p.m., at the city park shelter house

Saturday, July 3

• Tractor ride, sponsored by Central Plains FFA Chapter, 8:30 a.m. registration and line-up with departure from Laurel Park at 9a.m.

• Gowrie Growth Group (G3G) street dance featuring Cory Waller and the Wicked Things, 8 p.m. to midnight in front of Ole Town Road Pub and Eatery on Market Street.

Sunday, July 4

• Gowrie Municipal Golf Course annual Men’s Amateur Golf Tournament. For tee times call the golf course at 515 352 3320; spectators welcome, food will be available.

• Zion Lutheran Church service and confirmation reunion, 9:30 a.m.

• Gowrie United Methodist Church service, 9:30 a.m.

• Endurance Challenge sponsored by the Southwest Webster Ambulance Service – time and events to be announced.

• Bill Riley Talent Show, 2 p.m. at the Betty Nyght Hamilton Bandshell at the Gowrie City Park, 2 p.m.

• Birthday cake and ice cream celebration Gowrie’s sesquicentennial. Cupcakes available for the first 200 people, time and place to be announced.

• Fabulous Fireworks at dusk

Monday, July 5

• Gowrie Volunteer Fire Department pancake and sausage breakfast, 7-9:30 a.m. at the Gowrie Fire Station

• Freedom 5K Run/Walk, 7:30 a.m. at the Southeast Valley High School football field.

• American Legion Auxiliary food stand, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Craft fair, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the city park.

• Independence Day Parade, 10 a.m.

• Parade chicken dinner at United Methodist Church following the parade

• Freedom Cruise car show, 11 a.m. at Laurel Park

• Cow Pie Bingo, 1 p.m. next to Roper Repair Show on Pleasant Street. Tickets are available by contacting any Xi Eta Sigma Sorority member


July 2,3,4 evenings; July 5 all day

Swimming pool

Friday, July 2 from 1-8 p.m.; Saturday, July 3 from 1-5 p.m. and Monday, July 5 from 1-8 p.m.

Otho Fourth of July events

• Pancake breakfast at the Otho Fire Station, 7-11 a.m.

• Parade, 1:30 p.m.

• Kids games in the park, 2-3:30 p.m.

• Free concert featuring the Beaver Creek Band

• Fireworks at dusk

GOWRIE – When starting to make plans to celebrate America’s birthday next weekend, you don’t have to go far as the Webster County towns of Gowrie and Otho have a multitude of activities planned to keep you busy all weekend.


On Sunday, July 4, Otho will be a buzz.

“Otho is a small town offering some big fun,” said Ashley Oberg, member of the Otho Betterment Committee. “It is an awesome time for people in the community to come together and spend time with family and friends.”

Oberg said after the past year and a half of cancelling activities, they are ready as ever to “do it up big this year.”

Sunday kicks off with the Otho Fire Department’s homemade pancake breakfast from 7-11 a.m. The celebration continues with a parade at 1:30 p.m.

Following the parade will be an afternoon full of activities put on by the Otho Betterment Committee.

“We will have games, cookie decorating and crafts for the kids,” said Oberg. “Duck King Rental is bringing some awesome games like Sumo wrestling and a foam party that is fun for all ages.”

The fun will start back up Sunday evening with a free show by the Beaver Creek band followed by fireworks.

“The fireworks are going to be awesome as there were a lot of donations this year,” said Oberg. “We can’t wait to host and see everyone enjoy Otho as much as we do.”


With a wide variety of activities planned for the Fourth of July weekend in Gowrie, instead of asking the question what is there to do in Gowrie, you could almost ask what is there not to do next weekend in Gowrie?

The town of Gowrie is making this year’s celebration a little more special with added activities to help celebrate their 150th birthday – plus one.

“Last year was supposed to be the 150th birthday celebration for the town of Gowrie, but it has not been forgotten, it will be 150th plus one this year,” said Terry Towne, parade coordinator.

The weekend kicks off Friday, July 2 with the American Legion Peterson Post’s pork loin dinner followed by BINGO.

The carnival is back to the Gowrie City Park this year and will be running throughout the weekend.

Saturday, July 3, the Central Plains FFA Chapter is sponsoring their annual tractor ride. Later that evening Cory Waller and the Wicked Things hit the stage for the street dance located on Market Street in front of Ole Town Road Pub and Eatery.

Because the Fourth of July lands on a Sunday this year, the parade will be held Monday, July 5. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t activities planned for the Fourth of July in Gowrie.

Terry Towne said there are some organizations planning events for the family. In addition to the annual golf tournament at the Gowrie Municipal Golf course, both churches will be holding service, with Zion Lutheran Church’s own sesquicentennial celebration.

The Southwest Webster Ambulance service is planning activities along with a corn hole tournament. There will be the Bill Riley competition and a birthday cake and ice cream celebration for the town of Gowrie held on Sunday, July 4 as well.

Fireworks will be held at dusk near the Southeast Valley football field complex.

Activities for Monday, July 5 start with the Gowrie Volunteer Fireman pancake breakfast at the fire department as well as the Freedom 5K run/walk that begins at the Southeast Valley football field.

The parade, which begins at 10 a.m. is going back to their regular route after lengthening it for social distancing purposes last year.

To say the Gowrie Independence Day parade is a long-standing tradition is an understatement.

It is believed the parade is the longest consecutive Independence Day parade in the state of Iowa. Terry Towne said it is believed to have started back in 1888 and held every year since.

Entries are welcome right up to the day of the parade.

“We will take anything and everything,” she said. “This is our 150th celebration one year late. We are excited to have a parade. We hope we have a lot of entries. We are hoping people are excited to be out and excited to do these things.”

There is no need to pre-register for the parade, however, judging begins at Zion Lutheran Church at 9 a.m. sharp.

Kids of all ages will be pleased to know that candy is allowed back this year.

Parade grand marshals are Gowrie residents Ned and Colleen Palmer.

“Talk about two people that have contributed so much to this town,” said Terry Towne. “They are the epitome of Gowrie and a small town. They do tons, but they do it all quietly. People don’t realize all that they do.”

One thing’s for sure, the Gowrie parade does not lack in patriotism. Whether it be the American Legion Peterson Post #431’s display of flags, the honor guard or the horses carrying the flags.

“As soon as they start everyone stands up, the hats go off and hands on their hearts,” said Terry Towne.

The long tradition of horses and riders carrying on the American and Iowa flags done each year by the late John Lizer, will be carried on by his daughter Mary Patterson and possibly the third generation, his granddaughter, Joelle Lizer.

Gowrie’s mayor, Bruce Towne said he hopes people embrace the 150th plus one celebration of the town of Gowrie by joining the parade. He encourages more than business, but families, classes – just anyone that wants to be in the parade to do so.

Following the parade will be the Freedom Cruise Car Show at Laurel Park.

Gowrie’s Xi Eta Sigma’s annual fundraiser “Cow Pie Bingo” will be held. Tickets are available from any member and that event will begin at 1 p.m. next to Roper’s Repair Shop on Pleasant Street.

Other activities going on in Gowrie on July 5, in addition to the carnival include a craft fair and food vendors.

Both Bruce and Terry Towne know none of this would be possible without all of the volunteers and community organizations that step up to make the Gowrie celebration what it is today.

“We are a very vibrant town. Not only have we held our own through all these years, but we have gained,” said Terry Towne.

“We are seeing Gowrie going in an upward direction,” said Bruce Towne. “We are still growing in lots of different ways. We are not dying out. We are not giving up. We are keeping on.”

Although the Fourth of July weekend brings thousands to the southern Webster County town, Bruce Towne said it is more than just celebrating Gowrie.

“It is not about showcasing the town as much as celebrating the birthday of the United States,” he said. “The United States leads the world. We want to come back and be a part of that by celebrating.”

For more information on activities and events, visit gowrie.org.


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