Area Fourth of July celebrations will start early and go late, judging from the notices already submitted to the Bulletin.

The first celebration, in Bangs, is scheduled for Friday — this Friday — a whole week before the Fourth, and several events are planned for the Fourth, and more, still, for July 5.

It will be the third annual Heart of Texas Freedom Celebration and gates will open at 6 p.m. Friday at Bangs Memorial Stadium. The fireworks show is scheduled to begin at dark, approximately 9:15 p.m., but in-between, attendees can listen to music, play games and visit the vendors’ booths set up at the stadium.

A homemade ice cream contest is also part of the festivities in Bangs. Anyone can enter, and the competition — if at all like years previous — will be tough. Judging for the ice cream contest is at 7 p.m. and that is the absolute final deadline for submitting an entry. Ice cream sales will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will continue until it’s all sold or eaten. Proceeds will make the cash prizes for first, second and third places. Betty Ellis is chairing the contest.

Rick Phelps is the announcer for the 2008 Texas Freedom Celebration, and this year 5-year-old Sydney Richard will sing the National Anthem. Officials said the fireworks show will be a continuous presentation with some $12,000 in professional fireworks displayed.

Those attending are urged to bring their lawn chairs, or plan to sit in the stands of the stadium.

On Friday the Fourth, events are planned at Comanche, Flat Rock Park and Mountain View Lodge at Lake Brownwood, and Rising Star.

Comanche’s Family on the Fourth Celebration and Fireworks is set to begin at 6:30 p.m., July 4, at the Comanche High School Indian Stadium. The Comanche Lion’s Club will be selling hot dogs and drinks. Other concession stands will have event T-shirts for sale. Then, a musical celebration will begin at 7 p.m. and this year, Grammy Award-winning Tommy Allsup, whose historical distinction is that he lost the coin toss to Ritchie Valens for the seat on the small airplane Feb. 3, 1959, that crashed and killed Buddy Holly, Valens and others on board.

Also performing on the Comanche County Medical Center Stage will be Liv’s Dancers and other selected artists. At 9:15, there will be a “Military Salute” to all veterans and active duty military on the track and at 9:30 p.m., one of the largest firework shows in the State of Texas gets underway, organized and executed by the Comanche Kiwanis Club.

Flat Rock Park at Lake Brownwood is staging a fireworks show July 4 that should last for at least an hour and a half, organizers have said. There will be a $3 admission to the park, and fireworks should start shooting at about 9:15 p.m.

The Mountain View Lodge show at Lake Brownwood, also Friday the Fourth, is free and open to the public — but attendees need to bring their own chairs. A barbecue stand will be open with sandwiches, etc., for sale.

The Rising Star annual Freedom Festival, sponsored by the Rising Star Chamber of Commerce, gets started at 4 p.m., July 4, at the city park. At 6 p.m., starting at the high school, is the Freedom parade. Events will continue at the park following the parade, and at dark a grand finale fireworks display is planned. The Rising Star Chamber is asking for donations from citizens and supporters and those can be made at various businesses or to Judy Green at city hall.

The fun, food and fireworks will continue through July 5. American Legion Post 470 and Ladies American Legion Auxiliary of North Lake Brownwood are hosting a barbecue and dance.

Their traditional barbecue brisket, sausage and chicken dinner is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m., July 5, followed by a dance, 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. at the North Lake American Legion Hall, located at Harbor Point. To get there, take Farm-To-Market Road 2273 to County Road 422, and the hall is on the first road to the right.

Dinner tickets are $8 per plate, and $4 for children younger than 12. The hall is smoke-free. Admission to the dance is $5 and no one younger than 18 will be admitted. Adults 21 and older will be allowed to bring their own coolers and alcoholic beverages to the dance.

The Lake Brownwood Fireworks Spectacular X2 will be Saturday, July 5. This year’s event will feature the traditional firework show visible from the lake, but there will also be a second, simultaneous show fired from a peak nearby. According to Emily Crawford, director of tourism at the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce, spectators on the land and on the water will have quite an experience.

Another change to this year’s event is the addition of a boat parade and ski exhibition prior to the fireworks show.

“We invite everyone to join us for the ‘most extreme’ fireworks show in Central Texas on Saturday, July Fifth at Feather Bay Subdivision,” Crawford said.

The land-based viewing will be in the same location as last year, just off Highway 2632 at the Feather Bay Subdivision.

Admission is $5 per vehicle. There will be two gates for entry and exit this year. Gates will open at 5 p.m. and the show is expected to begin at dark, around 9:15 p.m.

The main entrance, at the intersection of Highway 2632 and FM 3021, will be for the general public. The second entrance, located north of the main gate on Highway 2632, will be reserved for VIPs and property owners.