East Bend celebrates faith and freedom


By Kitsey Burns Harrison - kburns@yadkinripple.com



Veterans march in the 28th annual God and Country parade in East Bend.


Kitsey Burns Harrison | Yadkin Ripple

East Bend native and long-time member of the fire department, Gary Martin, serves as grand marshal for the 28th annual God and Country parade.


Kitsey Burns Harrison | Yadkin Ripple

Youth sports team takes part in 28th annual God and Country parade in East Bend.


Kitsey Burns Harrison | Yadkin Ripple

East Bend Baptist Church youth ride on float in God and Country Day.


Kitsey Burns Harrison | Yadkin Ripple

Mount Bethel Baptist Church participates in the annual parade in East Bend.


Kitsey Burns Harrison | Yadkin Ripple

A patriotic tractor in the annual East Bend God and Country parade.


Kitsey Burns Harrison | Yadkin Ripple

Tractors parade down Main Street in East Bend for the annual God and Country parade.


Kitsey Burns Harrison | Yadkin Ripple

Horses are the last to parade down the street in the annual God and Country parade in East Bend.


Kitsey Burns Harrison | Yadkin Ripple

A bouncy water slide is a big hit at the East Bend God and Country celebration.


Kitsey Burns Harrison | Yadkin Ripple

Veterans are presented with a hat at the annual God and Country celebration in East Bend.


Kitsey Burns Harrison | Yadkin Ripple

It might be the smallest municipality of Yadkin County, but East Bend puts on the largest Independence Day celebration with its annual God and Country celebration, held on Saturday. Residents and visitors began lining up on Main Street well before 8 a.m. in anticipation of the parade.

The tradition dates back to 1903 when buggy marker J.G. Huff organized a fiddlers convention and parade in honor of the July 4 holiday. A notable feature of that parade was a 17-foot violin, made to scale, that craftsmen from the buggy factory built.

In 2009, Hoke Matthews began entering a replica of this original violin. Matthews is one of the organizers who continues to host a bluegrass convention in Yadkin County each year. The float featuring the violin also includes bluegrass musicians who play throughout the procession.

The East Bend Volunteer Fire Department also hosted a parade in East Bend many years ago which included a horse show and a Fire Queen contest. The current incarnation of the event began in 1990 when a group of citizens worked to bring back the tradition. Honoring veterans and faith are important parts of the event, organizers said.

The informational booklet published each year prior to the God and Country celebration includes the names of local veterans. A local veteran also is often selected to serve as grand marshal for the parade. This year’s grand marshal was Gary Martin, a U.S. Army veteran. Martin is also a long-time member and past chief of the East Bend Volunteer Fire Department.

This year’s parade featured numerous fire trucks, classic cars, tractors, horses and floats from local churches, sports teams and local businesses.

Following the parade, the festivities continued on the grounds of East Bend Elementary School. The flag was raised and veterans were recognized and presented with a commemorative cap to mark the occasion. Martin also gave a few brief remarks thanking the committee for selecting him as grand marshal.

“There aren’t many times I get to ride through East Bend and wave at 1,000 of my friends. I enjoyed that,” Martin said.

Awards also were presented in several categories for parade floats. East Bend Friends Church float was recognized as Most Inspirational. The Best Theme honor was presented to Hoke Matthews for his Fiddlers Convention float. Best Youth Float was Camp Moose. Most Patriotic was awarded to Mount Zion Baptist Church.

Vendors with a variety of crafts and food were on hand throughout the event as well as live entertainment. A bouncy water slide was a popular activity for children. An evening service was held to close out the day and fireworks ended the celebration with a bang.

To have a veteran’s name included in next year’s God and Country booklet, email information to ebgodandcountry@yahoo.com.

Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.

Veterans march in the 28th annual God and Country parade in East Bend.
https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_july4_1.jpgVeterans march in the 28th annual God and Country parade in East Bend. Kitsey Burns Harrison | Yadkin Ripple

East Bend native and long-time member of the fire department, Gary Martin, serves as grand marshal for the 28th annual God and Country parade.
https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_july4_2.jpgEast Bend native and long-time member of the fire department, Gary Martin, serves as grand marshal for the 28th annual God and Country parade. Kitsey Burns Harrison | Yadkin Ripple

Youth sports team takes part in 28th annual God and Country parade in East Bend.
https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_july4_3.jpgYouth sports team takes part in 28th annual God and Country parade in East Bend. Kitsey Burns Harrison | Yadkin Ripple

East Bend Baptist Church youth ride on float in God and Country Day.
https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_july4_4.jpgEast Bend Baptist Church youth ride on float in God and Country Day. Kitsey Burns Harrison | Yadkin Ripple

Mount Bethel Baptist Church participates in the annual parade in East Bend.
https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_july4_6.jpgMount Bethel Baptist Church participates in the annual parade in East Bend. Kitsey Burns Harrison | Yadkin Ripple

A patriotic tractor in the annual East Bend God and Country parade.
https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_july4_7.jpgA patriotic tractor in the annual East Bend God and Country parade. Kitsey Burns Harrison | Yadkin Ripple

Tractors parade down Main Street in East Bend for the annual God and Country parade.
https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_july4_8.jpgTractors parade down Main Street in East Bend for the annual God and Country parade. Kitsey Burns Harrison | Yadkin Ripple

Horses are the last to parade down the street in the annual God and Country parade in East Bend.
https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_july4_9.jpgHorses are the last to parade down the street in the annual God and Country parade in East Bend. Kitsey Burns Harrison | Yadkin Ripple

A bouncy water slide is a big hit at the East Bend God and Country celebration.
https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_july4_10.jpgA bouncy water slide is a big hit at the East Bend God and Country celebration. Kitsey Burns Harrison | Yadkin Ripple

Veterans are presented with a hat at the annual God and Country celebration in East Bend.
https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_july4_11.jpgVeterans are presented with a hat at the annual God and Country celebration in East Bend. Kitsey Burns Harrison | Yadkin Ripple

By Kitsey Burns Harrison

kburns@yadkinripple.com

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