VERNON - Laura Brewer never watches the fireworks at Firecracker Day - Vernon's Independence Day event.
"I watch the kids, the older folks - they love it, the expressions on their faces," said Brewer, the Firecracker Pageant's director. "I don’t ever watch the fireworks."
For nearly four decades, Brewer has organized the pageant -which has served as a fundraising machine behind a number of Vernon's community events.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the pageant.
The pageant will be held June 16 at 4 p.m. at the Vernon Community Center, 2808 Yellow acket Drive. Registration for the pageant is still open. Fees for registration are $50 before June 14, $60 at the door and $10 extra to enter into the photogenic category. A $10 discount is applied for sibling registration.
The beauty pageant has historically provided financial support to the Vernon community, from small and intimate events, such as, helping build ramps for people in wheelchairs and making donations to a family whose home burned down to large events, such as, Dixie youth sports tournaments.
"It has paid for a little bit of everything," Brewer said.
For more than a decade, the beauty pageant has strictly supported Firecracker Day, funding about half of the cost. In times past, Brewer said, the pageant had covered all of the costs.
"We had 150 girls entering in those times," Brewer said, recalling those most bountiful Spectators would come from near and far to experience the entry-level pageant.
However, with the discontinuance of the talent portion, support for the pageant has since dwindled, along with the number of entries. Brewer said she expects about 50 registrants.
"I would love to see it come back, but until the community comes together to help, I can't get it back up," she said.
Still, this year, the event is sure to bring the family-fun it has delivered over the past four decades. And, despite the hard times, Brewer looks for the spark in the eyes of the kids and elderly - and plans for another year.
"It feels like I’ve always done it; it’s my thing - it’s my passion," Brewer said. "I wanted to quit," she chuckled. "But now that I’m retired, it’s giving me something to do."
"And the more I think about it," she concluded, "the more I can’t imagine not doing it."
To register for the pageant, contact Vernon City Hall at 850-535-2444 or Laura Brewer, 850-326-8738.