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Plan ahead to make this Fourth of July a great event for your friends and family. Barb Randall shares a list of American traditions which are sure to make a special holiday.

Barb Randall encourages all to get out and celebrate the Fourth of July with a true Americana spirit. You can attend the Estacada Timber Festival on the Fourth of July to do just that.

The Lions' pancake breakfast.

The Star Spangled Parade on A Avenue in Lake Oswego.

Waterski expo on Lakewood Bay.

Fireworks.

Those are activities which have become traditions for my family on the Fourth of July. They are fun and joyful events and we will likely include them in this year's festivities. But I feel a need to celebrate the Fourth of July in a mindful manner this year.

Can you imagine the passion and patriotism our country's Founding Fathers must have experienced when they signed the Declaration of Independence? I want to experience some of that original pride and patriotism this holiday. Perhaps I can get caught up in Americana by attending one of these events:

n The Portland Waterfront Blues Festival is on July 4 through 7 — and the music is sure to connect me with all corners of America as it is the largest celebration of the blues, soul, funk and rhythm and blues west of the Mississippi. Tickets are $20 per day purchased online at waterfrontbluesfest.com or $25 at the gate. Since 1988 the festival has been creating awareness and support of hunger relief efforts. Bring canned food donations for the Sunshine Division.

n Estacada will hold its annual Timber Festival July 4 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at PGE Timber Park, 30878 NE Evergreen Way in Estacada. The timber competition begins at noon — watch pole climbing, hot saws, chain saw showoffs, ax throwing, log pond rolls and much more all afternoon. There is live music from 4 p.m. on and fireworks at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5 each (children 4 and under are free) online at estacadatimberfestival.com.

n The Molalla Buckeroo has been a tradition for more than 100 years. The rodeo action starts with a kickoff party at 7:30 p.m. June 29 . The Buckeroo includes a carnival, food, vendors, and fireworks, live music and dancing after each night's rodeo action. The fun begins at 8 p.m. July 1, 2, 3, 4, plus there is a matinee at 1:30 p.m. July 4.

The rodeo grounds are located at 815 Shirley St. in Molalla. Visit molallabuckeroo.com.

n St. Paul also has a rodeo July 2 through 6. Visit stpaulrodeo.com for details and tickets.

n The Lake Oswego Millennium Concert Band's patriotic concert is always a great way to start the Fourth of July festivities. It takes place at 7 p.m. July 3 at Millennium Plaza Park, 200 First St. in Lake Oswego. This marks Band Director Dale Cleland's last performance before he retires, so don't miss it.

Bring lawn chairs and a picnic and enjoy this pre-Fourth tradition.

And of course the Fourth would not be complete without a barbecue. I will be serving these cooling watermelon-lime popsicles, and Grilled Short Ribs and Cherry Tomatoes with Chimichurri.

Here's wishing you a Fourth of July that fills you with patriotism which would make our Founding Fathers would proud.

Bon Appetit! Make eating an adventure!

Watermelon-Lime Pops

Place 3 cups cubed, seedless watermelon in a blender with 1/4 cup lime juice and 1 teaspoon sugar. Blend until liquefied and pour into cups. Top with lime slices, and use 'em to keep the popsicle sticks upright. Freeze overnight.

Grilled Short Ribs and Cherry Tomatoes with Chimichurri

Makes 4 servings

1 pound boneless short ribs (1 to 1 1/4 inches thick) or London broil

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, divided

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 cup fresh parsley and/or cilantro leaves

1 clove garlic

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Place a grill basket on one side of the grill; preheat to medium-high.

Sprinkle meat with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Grill the meat on the grate, turning occasionally until charred on all sides, and an instant read thermometer inserted in the center registers 125F (for medium rare), 10 to 15 minutes total. Add tomatoes to the grill basket and cook, stirring occasionally, until they burst, about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile place herbs, garlic and remaining 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. With the motor running add oil, vinegar, lemon juice and crush red pepper and process until the chimichurri is combined but chunky.

Serve the meat with the tomatoes and the chimichurri.

Recipe courtesy of Eatingwell.com.


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