FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (June 25, 2015) -- The United States was founded in the '70s -- the 1770s -- an era that defined a nation. Two hundred years later, the music of the 1970s was dominated by rock anthems that defined another generation. While both eras are now part of America's history, both will be celebrated during Fort Leonard Wood's annual Independence Day Celebration, scheduled on July 4 at Gammon Field.

This year, in addition to the area's largest annual fireworks display, the post will welcome "The Classic Rock Experience: 70's Arena Rock" performed by the Cincinnati, Ohio-based band Midnight Special.

"The focal point of their music is the late '70s and early '80s arena rock acts like Led Zeppelin, Queen, Van Halen, Journey -- the bands that formed that era," explained Eli Wilson, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Community Activities director.

"The shows they do are designed to give you a classic rock experience," Wilson continued. "They have the old speaker stacks like the old-style concerts along with smoke machines, and they've been known to do a laser light show. They basically do a throwback-style concert. I think a lot of people are going to recognize a lot of the music, because it's going to be one hit after another from classic-rock legends."

Midnight Special has been performing together since the midpoint of the arena rock era in 1976. Founding member Gregg St. Charles, who manages the band and plays bass guitar, said this will be the first time the group has performed the Classic Rock Experience on a military installation.

"We're excited, because we support our troops, and to be able to celebrate the Fourth of July alongside them is a great honor for us," St. Charles said. "We're very excited about the show and about being there."

The band's current lineup also includes Kurt Dobkins on lead vocals, founding member Joey Von Richter on lead guitar, David Geoffries on keyboards and Les Sharp on drums.

The concert is just one of the featured events that will make up the Independence Day Celebration, which is free and open to the public and attracts between 10,000 and 15,000 attendees each year.

Schedule of events

The celebration opens at 3 p.m. with activities and entertainment, including a car show, petting zoo, pony rides, a dunk tank, interactive games, inflatable playground equipment for children and more.

The 4th of July Car Show will feature multiple categories of cars, trucks and motorcycles that will begin lining up at 1 p.m., and will remain open from 3 until 6 p.m. Car owners interested in showing their cars can register online at or call the FMWR Auto Craft Shop at 573.596.0131, ext. 60243 for more information. Registration is free and open to the public.

The Kansas City Disc Dogs will return to Gammon Field. The Frisbee-fetching canines and their masters are scheduled to perform two, 30-minute shows, with the first at 5 p.m. and a second show at 7 p.m.

"This will be the second year for Kansas City Disc Dogs to perform here. They perform all over the state, including pre-game shows at Chiefs' and Royals' games. It's a pretty fun show," Wilson said.

Attendees can enjoy music by the 399th Army Rock Band, a.k.a. the Rough Riders, at 5:30 p.m.

The annual "Salute to the Union," which recognizes each state, is scheduled at 7:40 p.m., followed by the Classic Rock Experience at 8 p.m. and fireworks at 9:30 p.m.

"It's known as the largest fireworks display in the area, and it's usually our biggest draw," Wilson said.

Food, beverages

Admission, and nearly everything during the celebration is free, with the exception of food and beverages, which will be available for purchase. Wilson said attendees will have more selection than ever before.

"We will have over 30 food and concession vendors on the field this year," Wilson said.

Rules, safety tips

Attendees should be aware that Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation has some rules in place to ensure the safety and security of service members, Family members and visitors during the Independence Day Celebration.

The event is a festival seating event, and attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs.

No coolers of any kind are allowed on the premises. No pets are allowed on the venue, and no fireworks will be allowed on the grounds.

"Service animals will be the only animals allowed onto the venue," Wilson said.

The use of bicycles, skateboards or rollerblades will not be allowed on the event grounds.

Parking is typically available along side streets surrounding Gammon Field. Special parking for vehicles bearing disabled-parking placards and plates that can be validated will be located on Iowa Avenue. For more information, call 573.596.0131, ext. 66913 or visit FMWR online at


Celebrate early with 'These Colors Don't Run' 5k

Grab a pair of running shoes and start the Independence Day Celebration early by joining the 2015 "These Colors Don't Run" 5k Color Run starting at 8 a.m. July 4 at Davidson Fitness Center.

Advance registration is $15 and is available now through Wednesday online at Same-day registration is $20 and begins at 7 a.m. Registration includes a commemorative T-shirt that will be colored during the event as volunteers douse participants with red and blue colors.

The event is open to the public. For more information, visit the website or call 573.596.0131, ext. 64359.

(Editor's note: Decker is the Fort Leonard Wood GUIDON Leisure/Sports editor.)