Fourth of July events in Mandan have something for everyone.

Jam-packed with three days of patriotic celebrations, competitions featuring the top names in rodeo and Bismarck's own, Miss America Cara Mund, Mandan Rodeo Days is sure to please.

"You can't say there's nothing to do, whether you like sporting events or kids activities or anything like that," said Del Wetsch, executive director of the Mandan Progress Organization.

To kick off, Art in the Park is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 3 at Dyshoorn and Heritage parks. It continues 9 a.m.-5 p.m. July 4.

When Art in the Park was established in 1972, only a handful of artists sold their work. This year, there will be 134 vendors, 24 of them new, according to Wetsch.

There will also be entertainment and 27 food booths, five of which are new. Jumbo's Food Truck, which previously had a drive-in located in Mandan, will be back with its sloppy Joe sauce, Rock N Roll Tacos will be there, as well as new vendors selling homemade ice cream, sodas and just about anything deep fried.

The Independence Day Parade will start at 10:15 a.m. July 4 on Main Street in Mandan.

The 2018 parade's theme is "American Dreams," and will feature pageantry, high-stepping equestrians, marching band and other displays. This year, there are about 130 parade entries, an increase due perhaps to it being an election year, according to Wetsch.

"(The parade theme) kind of plays on Cara Mund being there: If you can dream it, you can do it," Wetsch said.

For the past nine months, Mund has been traveling across the country, attending various events and visiting patients as the National Goodwill Ambassador for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

Despite where she's been, including celebrating the Fourth of July in New York City, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, Mund said she doesn't think "anywhere does it quite like Bismarck-Mandan."

Mund said Miss America is typically in Philadelphia celebrating the Fourth of July, but this year she wanted to be at home.

"To celebrate where I grew up is important to me, and I've missed a lot this year as Miss America, but I don't want to miss the Fourth," said Mund, who grew up going to the Mandan parade and watching the fireworks. She also attended the Mandan rodeo and parade last year as Miss North Dakota.

Mund will be at the rodeo in Mandan on July 3, as well as the grand marshal of the July 4 parade.

Mandan Rodeo Days is celebrating its 139th year. Rodeo Days began in 1879 with a baseball game and pony races. This year, the rodeo is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. July 2-4; Family Night will begin at 5 p.m. July 2.

Fast-paced rodeo action will also feature a crowd favorite, Whiplash, the Cowboy Monkey, and the Miss Rodeo Mandan pageant.

There are more than 520 entries in the rodeo competitions, according to Jason Mittelstadt, chairman of the Mandan Rodeo Days Committee.

"One of the biggest things this year is we have got more added money in the rough stock events, so that's drawing all the big names in the rodeo world," Mittelstadt said.

Cowboys and cowgirls from the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association and the Women's Professional Rodeo Association will travel from across the United States and Canada to compete for more than $120,000. The entry list so far includes 14 world champions and 43 people who hold world titles.

"It will be a very exciting thing. If there are any rodeo fans out there, this is the best rodeo to see," Mittelstadt said, adding that he's hopeful they can fill the stands each night.

For more information and a complete schedule of Mandan's Fourth of July events, visit mandanrodeo.com/schedule/.

Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com.

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Education and Health Reporter