About 2,000 people of various ages gathered in Kurten and enjoyed a 30-minute fireworks display following an evening of games, food and conversation, all part of Thursday’s 16th annual Brazos County District 2 Volunteer Fire Department’s Kurten Fireworks Show and Fundraiser.

Attendees described the event as family friendly, and children ran around and played as the sun continued its westward march across the sky. Most attendees wore American colors, with some wearing U.S. flag-themed hats, shorts and shirts. The event also annually includes a gun raffle, with proceeds going toward the volunteer fire department.

Assistant fire chief Daniel Goodenow said that a large portion of the funds raised by the event will go toward a new fire truck that will serve the Edge area.

“This being a small community, this is one of the things that people look forward to,” Goodenow said. “We do want to raise funds for our department, but our priority is to make sure that this goes off smoothly. That’s our big focus, and the community gets involved volunteering and with local sponsorships.”

He said the Kurten Community Center donated the space, and that H-E-B donated some of the food for the event.

“It’s a family oriented thing,” Goodenow said. “We try to build on it every year, focus on the kids’ stuff and grow the fireworks show a little bit every year. It’s hard work, but at the end of the day, it’s an awesome feeling.”

Melanie Estes, an alderman on the Kurten City Council, said some in the community see the annual Fourth of July gathering as “a homecoming of sorts.”

“When you’re in rural areas, you don’t get to see each other as much,” Estes said as she sat chatting with her husband, Larry, and their friends Shauna and Greg Cox, who live with their children in the Wixon Valley area. “You see a lot of your neighbors here and get to reconnect. We’re seeing people and noticing how kids are growing. It’s really a sweet time.”

Event volunteer Sharon Wagner said she views the annual Kurten event as “less hectic” than other area Independence Day events.

“They put on an amazing show,” Wagner, a Texas A&M doctoral student, said of the fireworks show’s planners.

Wagner, who said with a laugh that she lives “on the edge of Edge,” said that the Fourth of July embodies “what America really is about.”

“It really is about the word ‘independence’ in its fullest form,” Wagner said. “It’s about the freedom to think what you want, the freedom to worship what you want, the freedom to do what you want, and it’s a day to stop and celebrate all that we can do, and all that we have.”

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