Nebraska City’s Independence Day festival will get underway on Friday, July 5, when the River City Carnival returns to town.
Carnival hours will be 6 p.m. to midnight Friday and 2 p.m. to midnight Saturday, July 6. 
“We like to bring in the carnival for the weekend to make things feel more festive,” said Amy Allgood,  executive director of Nebraska City Tourism and Commerce.
The carnival will set up in Steinhart Park, and wristbands will be available for purchase on site.
The carnival will close for the Jaycees Fireworks Show that is set to begin at dusk Saturday night.
In the event that the fireworks are rain-delayed to Sunday, July 7, the carnival will be open Sunday afternoon as well. 
If the fireworks show takes place Saturday night, the carnival will not be open Sunday.
A new event to this year’s festival is a free watermelon feed at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 6, said Allgood.
She said watermelon will be available in the carnival’s food court area, near the Jaycees concession stand.
NCTC staff is working with LCDR Ron Roen, UNSR Ret., for a color guard from STRATCOM to make an appearance at Saturday’s events. 
Plans are also in the works for a possible flyover of military aircraft, said Allgood. 
Baseball fans, take note: Nebraska City’s Legion teams will host Auburn at Clemmy Holmes Field on Thursday, July 4, at 1 and 3 p.m. 
Holdrege will visit Clemmy Holmes Field on Saturday, July 6, for 1 and 3 p.m. games.
Also on tap for Saturday are the Jaycees Ice Cream Social, which will start at 6:30 p.m. at Steinhart Lodge. A sundae will cost $4.
The Southeast Nebraska Community Band will perform a concert starting at 6:45 p.m., and other musical performers will take the stage ahead of the fireworks show.
This year’s fireworks show will be “one of our biggest ever,” said Duane  Koehlmoos of the Nebraska City Jaycees.
Koehlmoos said the show will feature more than 600 aerial shells and four new ground displays.
Koehlmoos said the Jaycees are always looking for volunteers to help with show setup and cleanup. 
He said volunteers can show up at Steinhart Park about 9 a.m. Saturday if they are interested in helping out.
The Steinhart Aquatic Center will be open regular hours Friday, July 5. 
The center will be open from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, July 6, with the center’s concession stand open all day.
Poolside chairs can be rented for fireworks show viewing. Cost is $5. 
Call the Aquatic Center at 402-873-5933 to reserve your seat.
Ahead of the weekend festival, NCTC is sponsoring a “Red, White and Local “ promotion to encourage residents to shop locally, said Allgood.
“People can take a photo of themselves shopping locally and post it to our Red, White and Local Facebook post for a chance to win one of six prizes.  NCTC prize packs include $25 Chamber Bucks, sunglasses, koozie, and fireworks (4 prizes),” said Dana Stovall, NCTC tourism and promotions coordinator.
There will also be two winners for a carnival wristband. The promotion runs through noon on July 3.  
Winners will be posted by 2 p.m. on Wednesday, July 3,  and can pick up their prize until 5 p.m. July 3, said Stovall.