A beloved tradition for 20+ years, Salute to America is an all-day Independence Day extravaganza that brings the booms to Jefferson City. Enjoy food, drink, a parade, live music, and—once it gets dark—a dazzling fireworks display.

The streets of Jefferson City come to life with patriotic Americans as they commemorate Independence Day.

By Natalie-Elizabeth Tan

This Fourth of July, proudly don your red, white, and blue and hit the state capital for some good old-fashioned American fun. Salute to America, one of the largest Independence Day celebrations in Missouri, returns for its 22nd year, filling the streets of downtown Jefferson City with food, drink, shows, fireworks, and more.

The all-day extravaganza kicks off with a food court and fair. Browse the plentiful craft and retail vendors while munching on kettle corn, barbeque, or pizza. If you find yourself sweltering under the summer heat, there will be snow cones, boba, and Italian ice to cool you down.

For the kids and young at heart, there is plenty to stay entertained—inflatables, bubbles, crafts, a bounce house, chalk art, and more. Or, feed your competitive streak and go up against your friends or family in a sack race, corn hole, or Yahtzee. 

A vintage vehicle waves on spectators as it makes its way through town during the grand parade.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to cheer on the grand parade that snakes through McCarthy Street, High Street, and Jefferson Street before coming to an end on Miller Street. “This year’s theme is Heroes Among Us. We are honoring not only our veterans, but our teachers and medical and emergency service workers,” says event coordinator Taylor Wolz. “There will be music, dancers, fire trucks, military vehicles, people on horses, veterans in classic cars, and people handing out candy.”

There’s so much more to see and do as well. Ornithology aficionados, you have to check out the birds of prey show, presented by the World Bird Sanctuary. Car enthusiasts can marvel at the car show display. For something slightly different, hop on over to Mighty Machines, where you can see and sit inside large equipment including military and police vehicles.

In the evening, grab a quintessential American beer—or two, we won’t judge!—and relax while you watch while four homegrown musical acts take the stage: Ernest James Zydeco, Bad Habit, Soulroot Band, and Shiloh Country Band are all on the lineup.

End the night with a literal bang, as the night sky lights up with dazzling fireworks. Anywhere you can see the Missouri Capitol, you’ll be able to see the fireworks. An insider tip from Wolz: “The best view is from the Capitol lawn,” she says. “Bring a blanket and get a snack, we will have music set to go along with the fireworks. It’s a beautiful combination.”

All photos courtesy of Salute to America.

For hundreds more events, visit Missouri Life’s Event Calendar.