Burn bans expected to slow fireworks sales

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 151 views 

Burn bans don’t usually affect fireworks sales much but when it gets so hot and dry that setting off personal fireworks gets prohibited, that’s when firework stand owners start to sweat.

In recent days, several counties and cities have issued burn bans and firework bans (burn bans usually only address open flame burning). Cities such as Fayetteville, Farmington and Bentonville have prohibited residents from shooting off fireworks in the city limits until further notice.

As the status of each municipality’s stance on fireworks in city limits changes as conditions deteriorate, residents are advised to check with city officials before lighting fireworks. Counties such as Washington County have also issued similar bans.

“As dry as it is, with each day that goes by that is 100 degrees it just gets worse,” said Dennis Ledbetter, Washington County Fire Marshal. “There’s no rain in the forecast for a week and a half.”

Weather forecasts from The City Wire’s content partner KFSM show scorching temperatures with no rain for at least the next week — through  July 4.

Ledbetter said that a fireworks ban means all consumer fireworks no matter the size.

“Fireworks are fireworks,” he said.

Brent Boydston, fire chief for the City of Bentonville, said open burning is always prohibited in the city limits but that conditions were dry enough now that fireworks are banned as well.

Rob McLelland is minister of students for First Baptist Church Lowell and the youth group is hosting its second annual fireworks sale to raise money for youth camp. The stand is in the Harp’s parking lot on S. Thompson Avenue in Springdale.

“It will obviously have to affect it,” he said of the firework ban’s effect on sales.

He wasn’t as concerned when the bans just were for open burning but now that fireworks are also banned, that could affect sales, he said. What the group hopes to see is people coming from areas that don’t have fireworks banned to purchase the fireworks.

Grant Bearfield has worked at Rainbow Fireworks for about 10 years and he said time will tell how much business could slow down because of the weather conditions. Business usually doesn’t start picking up until the weekend before the holiday, he said.

“Time will tell how the rain will affect (sales),” he said. “It’s been pretty slow so far but that’s normal.”

Andy Clark is the owner of Uncle Sam’s Fireworks, which has stands in Northwest Arkansas, the River Valley, northeast Oklahoma, parts of Missouri and Texas.

“It’s hard to tell at this point,” he said of how the weather will affect sales. “The dryness is always a concern, but we always give customers guidance on (how to safely use fireworks).”

For the areas that still allow fireworks to be used, caution is still a good idea.

“Certain items in this environment should be stayed away from,” Clark said. “Like stick rockets.”

If people get fountains, care should be taken to not light them anywhere near grass. In fact, all fireworks should be lit on pavement.

“Burn bans always affect business. It gets harped on so much that it’s bound to affect business,” he said. “But the more we educated the public (on proper fireworks usage) the better. People need to use these things right all the time whether it’s dry or not dry.”

What the bans have not affected so far is the large public displays, which are governed by the state fire marshal. The cities and other groups hosting the large public displays must meet certain requirements regardless of weather conditions including having fire department personnel present.

Public Fireworks Displays
There is a healthy list of public fireworks displays available to the public. Attendees should verify with the organizers that each event is still happening as conditions could change after this list is published.

Saturday, June 30
Farmington Freedom Fest
4 p.m.-9:30 p.m. (fireworks start at dark)
Farmington High School Football stadium

Sunday, July 1
Three Dog Night concert/fireworks
7 p.m. (fireworks begin after the concert)
Orchards Park in Bentonville

Tuesday, July 3
Bella Vista's Independence Day Fireworks
Fireworks will begin at dusk, or shortly after 9 p.m.
Loch Lomond Dam

11th Annual Ventris Trail's End Resort Fireworks Display
8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
This display is intended to be seen by boat only.  Just south of marker "8" on Beaver Lake.

City of Rogers Fireworks
9 p.m.
Veteran’s Park

Wednesday, July 4:
An Evening at Orchards Park
7 p.m. (concert then the fireworks start around 9:30 p.m.)
Orchards Park in Bentonville

Second Annual Uptown Fayetteville Freedom Fireworks
9:15 pm (entertainment starts at 6 p.m.)
Northwest Arkansas Mall
The display will simulcast with Magic 107.9 FM

The Mayor’s 4th of July Celebration (Fort Smith)
Entertainment starts at 7 p.m. with fireworks at 9:30 p.m.
Harry E. Kelly Stage and Riverpark

Fourth at the Field
6:30 p.m. Music, 8:45 p.m. fireworks
Arvest Ballpark in Springdale
$8 for adults, $6 for kids 12 and under

Gentry Freedom Fest
Festivities start at noon, Fireworks start at dusk
Gentry City Park

West Fork City July 4th Celebration
Festivities 5 p.m., Fireworks at dark
Carter Park

Saturday, July 7:
Fireworks Extravaganza
Rodeo at 7:30 p.m., fireworks begin after the rodeo
Rodeo of the Ozarks at Parsons Stadium in Springdale