Kern River Valley Fireworks

Celebrating Patriotism with Steve Spradlin

Every summer Kern River Valley locals and visitors gather around lake Isabella for the Saturday Independence Day Fireworks celebration. A Kern River Valley tradition since the 1990’s.  Steve Spradlin has been the primary advocator to champion the continuance of this Kern River Valley tradition for the last 33 years.. 

Mr Spradlin, when did the fireworks first take place in the Kern River Valley?

The Whigs organization of Wofford Heights, The Wofford Heights Improvement Group had been doing the fireworks for a number of years. In the Wofford Heights Park and shooting the fireworks out over the lake towards Camp nine. So the WHIG was kind of a fragile organization and they decided that they were not going to be able to continue with that project because of membership and funding and different things. At that time, I was president of the Lake Isabella Chamber of Commerce and they gave me a call and said, “hey, we’re not going to do the fireworks any longer, would the Lake Isabella Chamber be interested in taking them over?”  I said, Yeah! You bet we’d be glad to do that!

When did you become involved with the firework show?

 I think it was about 1993.  I said you know but be advised that the one thing is we won’t be doing them out of Wofford Heights. I said if we take them over we’re going to do them at Lake Isabella and we’ve got to find a site that is going to be, you know, best for everybody for viewing and safety and everything. So after we spent some time, scouting around the lake and looking at all these different places to find a suitable place, you know, for visibility and of course, being in the Sequoia National Forest. Safety. Although back in those days The fire risk wasn’t anything like it is now. So we eventually picked engineer’s point out at the very end of it and it was a great place to set up and had visibility all the way around and so we started, with a small budget and as we learned  more about fireworks and put a couple of shows on and started to understand that there was more to it than sparklers and firecrackers.

How has the program evolved over the years?

What we’re doing is we’re celebrating the birth of a Nation. We’re celebrating the country of America and we’re doing it through the use of fireworks. The purpose and the goal is a celebration of the nation. We started, we learned more and more about how to make a good show and what we needed. The first thing that we found out was that if you go to a show in any  city and you’re in a stadium or you’re in a park and they’re really limited to what they can do, in the way of fireworks, they have a lot of spinning things. But very little in the way of rockets, you know, because obviously they can’t shoot too many Rockets off in the middle of a neighborhood. So on the flip side, we were limited in that we couldn’t do any of that smaller stuff and less expensive because of the distance between where the fireworks are and where the spectators are. I mean we are anywhere from an eighth to a quarter mile to three and four miles away that we have spectators.  You got to have some big stuff and that’s the first thing we learned. These fireworks, the diameter of the shells vary. Anywhere from a three inch shell, up to a six inch shell, and then last few years we added some eight inch shells which are pretty spectacular and you get a real resounding boom and echo out of the valley when you shoot those off and this year we moved up and we’ve got some 10 inch shells ! So we’ve never had a ten inch shell. Yeah!  You will know  when one of those goes off ! You’re certainly going to know that it was a 10 inch shell !

Who helps to keep the show going now?

We started out with a budget of a few thousand dollars. Three years ago, we were up to a twenty thousand dollar budget and then the pandemic hit and when the pandemic hit, the cost of the show just ballooned. Because of the cost of bringing shells over and just insurance and everything. This year’s show cost us Forty one thousand dollars.That’s tough to raise forty, one thousand dollars.  The Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce is only able to present this show with the funding raising efforts of our community including, The Mountain Mesa Men’s club, Kern River Valley business & proprietor donations.  Of course the majority of the funds come from the round up program and donations from local individuals and visitors.

If you would like to continue to see the Kern River Valley Fireworks Show you may drop spare change into the canisters of participating businesses, go to the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce or use a credit card online at