Country artist Kellene headlines Fourth of July entertainment

By Reggie Ellis

As the United States handed over rule of Iraq to its governing council on June 28 to begin their first year of independence from a despotic ruler, America prepared to celebrate its 228th anniversary of independence from the former British monarchy this Sunday, July 4.

Exeter again has prepared a full-day of fun activities for the entire family revolving around City Park. Beginning at 7 a.m. the Youth Group of the Church of God of Exeter will play host to the traditional pancake breakfast. Seven o'clock will also mark the start of the 10K run and two-mile prediction walk. Sponsored by the Exeter Parks and Recreation Department, the run and walk will begin at City Park. Registration will close at 6:45 a.m. on July 4. Registration cost is $15 for the race. You may sign up before race day at 314 W. Firebaugh Ave. or the day of the race at City Park. Only the first 100 entrants will receive T-shirts. For more information call 592-5262.

At 8 a.m., the Parks and Recreation Department's Horseshoe Tournament will begin. The tournament is round robin style with eight players in each class. There will be three classes this year. The C Class will begin at 8 a.m., the B Class at 10:30 a.m. and the A Class at 1 p.m. Entry deadline has already passed.

At 9 a.m. Boy Scout Troop 309 will present colors and lead the flag salute followed by the National Anthem sung by Rachel Ozburn. Ozburn is a phenomenal talent and has been getting paid to sing since she was 11 years old. On Aug. 16, 2003 she beat out more than 70 performers to become the first Visalia Teen Idol, a county talent contest similar to FOX's "American Idol."Ozburn will be a junior at Exeter Union High School this fall.

Stellar performances continue throughout the afternoon. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. recording artist Kellene Shurb will perform at the gazebo in City Park. At the age of 20, Kellene enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and toured with the Air Force Rock Band where the highlight was a command performance for then President Ronald Reagan. Following her career in the USAF, Kellene began writing and recording country music. Her first album, "Whispering Hope," won critical acclaim and was awarded Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year honors in 2000 by the Golden State Country Music Association. The following year Kellene co-produced her second album, "Cowboy Up," which earned her Female Vocalist, Entertainer, Song and Gospel Song of the Year honors. Kellene's songs are mostly stories about her life and her family. Title track "Whispering Hope" is the true story of the life of her grandparents, while "The Gift" was written to express her feelings about her two sons. "Taken For A Fool" and "I Cry" are reflections on a messy divorce and "Cowboy Up" is just a rockin' Honky Tonk tune.

"I write mostly country but I sing just about everything," Kellene said.

Often singing at weddings, concerts, fund-raisers and special events, Kellene's range of genre is impressive from Eric Clapton to Norah Jones and Stevie Ray Vaughn to Carlos Santana. She performs more than 1,500 popular songs in classic rock, modern country, country western, rhythm and blues, oldies, Latin pop and rock 'n' roll.

From 2-4 p.m. local band Rearview Mirror will play oldies, classic rock and country from the '50s, '60s and '70s. The band is made up of local talent: John Noel of Exeter, keyboard; Jon Endonio of Fresno, lead guitar; John Pontremoli of Fresno, bass guitar; Gilbert Garcia of Madera, rhythm guitar; and Wayne Clay of Madera, drummer.

"We aren't playing to make a lot of money," said Noel, a teacher at Wilson Middle School. "We are just a bunch of guys who get together to play for the fun of it."

Throughout the day there will be arts, crafts, games and food booths at the park. At dusk the Exeter Lions Club will begin their traditional fireworks display from Lions Stadium at Dobson Field. Free food is available and the Lions ask that no one bring ice chests. The Lions Club has provided the free fireworks display for more than 50 years.

The Fourth of July celebration is organized by the Exeter Chamber of Commerce. For more information call the chamber at 592-2919.

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