The South Puget Sound is a place that knows true patriotism, and where people are comfortable sharing their love for the Stars and Stripes. It’s home to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where more than 200,000 military personnel, civilian contractors and their families live. It’s where you’ll find Sumner, and its classic Americana feel that’s as American as rhubarb pie. It’s a place that knows veterans deserve some extra consideration, and has installed the country’s only golf course designed specifically for the rehabilitation of disabled and wounded veterans.

And it’s where every Fourth of July for more than 30 years, Pierce County and lots of folks from surrounding counties come together to celebrate Freedom Fair on the Ruston Way waterfront, a family-friendly and volunteer-run event that incorporates an air show, food festival, live music, classic cars and, of course, fireworks.

People who want to get a jump on the festivities can prime the pumps on July 3 with the Gig Harbor Wings & Wheels show that celebrates pretty much everything that has an engine. With classic and modern automotive and aviation masterpieces, attendees can watch fly-bys, meet pilots or just wander among the entrees of the car and hot rod show. To give their eardrums a workout in preparation for the following day’s fireworks, there will be jet car rocketing down the runway at speeds of up to 300 miles per hour.

On July 4, things really heat up starting at 10 a.m. with the car show featuring automobiles as art, including hot rods, muscle cars and simply classic cars restored to show condition. Then, the tunes start at 11 a.m. with live music of almost every genre, including rock, country, pop, Christian and blues, before the Tacoma Freedom Airshow takes to the skies at 1:30 p.m. over Commencement Bay. For those who haven’t already been noshing all day, they’ll have a time to grab something among the food booths, find a prime viewing spot along the waterfront and take in some sun before the fireworks light up the skies at 10:10 p.m.

This is the family-friendly Fourth of July experience you’ve been looking to share with your kids. Join us on Ruston Way this Monday!