Every year for over a decade, the city of Town & Country rings in the summer season with a celebration of fireworks, food and local camaraderie. The spectacle of fiery feats and cold treats is known more locally as Fire & Ice and, according to Anne Nixon, it’s an annual tradition that 3,000 people annually come back to every year.
“What keeps people coming back is the sense of community,” Nixon said. “It’s a very local event, and people get to see their friends and neighbors.”For 2018, there will be more new events and amenities for people of all ages to sample, from rock-climbing walls to new local craft beer stands. The presenting sponsor for the 2018 event is Mari de Villa, a senior living community that offers all-inclusive skilled nursing, independent living and memory care.
What began as a firework show with free ice cream for residents evolved over time into a local tradition known simply as, “Fire & Ice.” The name has stuck, becoming locally synonymous as a time to beat the heat by gathering around with friends and families to enjoy an evening of food, music and summer activities.
“It’s become a great Town & Country tradition,” Nixon said, who been with the Parks and Recreation Department for over 10 years and has watched the event evolve to include sponsorships, live bands and help from dozens of local businesses and restaurants, all of which are local to the city.
With some minor differences and returning traditions, the 2018 Fire & Ice event will take place on June 23rd from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and will take place at Longview Farm Park located off Clayton Road.
Visitors can browse the “Taste of Town & Country” area to sample from local restaurants in a variety of dinners, desserts and drinks. As is tradition, the event will also offer fun games for children of all ages.
Local traditions with a twist
The original inspiration for Fire & Ice was another local event called Jubilee Jamboree, held in 2000 in honor of Town & Country’s 50th anniversary. The event featured an early version of the “Our Town, Our Country” parade, plus carnival rides, a petting zoo and a choreographed firework show.
Through 2009, Fire & Ice was held near what is now Westminster Christian Academy. From 2010-2013 it was located west of Target in Town & Country Crossing. Starting in 2014, the event has been held on the Wirth property, the future location of the city’s Town Square.
This year, the event will be held at Longview Farm Park, located slightly west of the Wirth Property.
“The biggest change this year is the event will be held at Longview Farm Park instead of at our Town Square property, because it is currently under construction,” Nixon said. “The change of location, and that all the activities will take place in the park and that all parking will be offsite.”
According to Nixon, the new space has allowed for a variety of different activities on park property, including new kids activities like a rock climbing wall and basketball competition.
In 2017, the event was changed with the absence of the traditional “Our Town, Our Country” parade due to predictions of extreme heat and inclement weather. According to Nixon, the parade will be delayed in 2018 and will instead be held at the city’s upcoming Fall Festival.
Nighttime fireworks display
One of the Fire & Ice highlights is the fireworks display that occurs after dark with a choreographed firework show. Visitors can get a view of the show from the hillside of Longview Farm Park.
Visitors can bring blankets and lawn chairs to enjoy the show. Also allowed onsite are reusable water bottles, bug spray, flashlights, sports balls and other lawn games.Items not allowed on the property during the festival or fireworks show include glass, sun tents or any items that would create litter in the part like confetti or silly string that could potentially cause harm to nearby animals and other wildlife.
The annual fireworks show is expected to begin after dark at around 9 p.m.
In case of inclement weather, updates would be posted to the city’s official website.
“If at all possible, we will hold the fireworks,” Nixon said. “If there’s inclement weather during the day, there could be a damper on some of the activities like the inflatables, but for the most part, if there’s good weather, we’ll be a-go. If there’s terrible weather, we would update that on the city’s website and reschedule for a different date.”Food and drink
In addition to the fireworks display, attendees can expect to see a variety of local cuisine at the Taste of Town & Country dining area, which will be lined with booths from local restaurants. The Taste of Town & Country dining area was added in 2006 and, since its inception, the array of foods has expanded to include everything from grilled means to iced cakes.The booths include old favorites and new Mike Duffy’s Pub and Grill, Farotto’s, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt and Kona Ice. Some new participants for 2018 include Global Quesadilla, Katie’s Pizza & Pasta and Assumption Greek Orthodox Church. Residents will be able to purchase grilled food, cold beverages and desserts.
Also new to 2018 will be a selection of local craft beers from Steampunk Brew Works, which is the city’s first brewery and is located in Lamp and Lantern Village.
“They are also local, right here in Town & Country,” Nixon said.
For restaurants like Mike Duffy’s Pub & Grill, which has been involved with Taste of Town & Country since its inception, getting involved has become a community tradition. Mike Duffy’s is the only restaurant to have been involved in every Fire & Ice event since its creation, and for 2018, will return to the festival with grilled goods cooked onsite.
Cash is advised to purchase food and other goods, and an ATM is available nearby for at the Midland Bank in Mason Woods Village.
Just like the food vendors and business sponsors, the music is also a local product returning to the area.
Steven J. Push, a Nashville-based musician and former St. Louis-area middle school literature teacher, is returning to the area to perform at the festival for another year after a positively received performance in 2017.With a blues-pop style based on musicians like Ray LaMontagne and Martin Sexton, “Push” previously played at Fire & Ice in 2017 after a debut around six years ago.
“The lead singer grew up in Town & Country and his parents still live here, but he’s a professional singer in Nashville now,” Nixon said.
In addition to music and attractions for adults, the event also boasts activities for kids of all ages. New to 2018, a rock wall will be onsite for kids to test their climbing abilities. The festival will also feature an obstacle course, a basketball competition and an inflatable slide. Chamber of Commerce will also provide a family fun area with a variety of other games and activities sponsored by local businesses.
Shuttles and parking
Longview Farm Park will be closed to vehicular traffic during the event. A few ADA spaces [with parking tag] will be available near the entrance. Shuttles will run between pick-up locations at Longview, Mason Ridge School and First Church of Christ Scientist.
The park is also accessible from the city’s trail network, specifically the Clayton Road trail.
“It would be fantastic to use the Clayton Road trail in order to get to the event by bike or walking,” Nixon said.
For updates on the event, visit www.town-and-country.org or call (314)587-2814