This year marks the first time that the Malibu Cup, an international water ski tournament, will be held in Tuscaloosa as part of the Celebration. The competition, which starts at 10 a.m., will see the top 50 male and female water skiers in the country compete for a $30,000 purse. They will participate in slalom challenges which judge how fast they can complete an aquatic obstacle course.
A wakeboarding expo and ski trick performance will take place in addition to the tournament.
April Coble-Eller directs the Pro Ski Tour, the group bringing the Malibu Cup to Tuscaloosa. She’s also a nationally ranked skier who will participate in the competition.
Coble-Eller said the idea to incorporate the Malibu Cup into the Celebration came from a suggestion made by the owner of a local water-ski venue. Coble-Eller has been water skiing competitively since she was 5 years old.
“The single thing I’ve loved about this sport more than anything else is being able to travel around the world and meet people from everywhere and being able to do it with my family,” she said. “And of course, when you ski well, and you win, you can’t even explain it. It’s priceless.”
During the Malibu Cup, there will be food vendors, a biergarten and a children’s area. A wing-eating contest will take place at 12:30 p.m.
The day’s events will end with a fireworks show as well as a performance by the Tuscaloosa Symphony in the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. They will play an arrangement of well-known patriotic standards as well as music from the scores of “Frozen” and “Spider-Man.”
Before the show, at 6:30 p.m., the Army National Guard and the Tuscaloosa Parks and Recreation Authority will have activities for children. The performance is general seating, so attendees are advised to get there early.
Demondrae Thurman is the conductor of the Tuscaloosa Symphony and has led the Fourth of July performances since their inception. He enjoys the atmosphere of performing in an outdoor venue where fans can cheer and show their full support.
“It’s really great,” he said. “It’s almost like a rock concert kind of vibe because, you know, screaming and yelling kind of works, as opposed to inside the concert hall where there’s usually just clapping.”
The Celebration on the River also includes a farmers market, which will run from 7 a.m. to noon. Alexis Clark, the market’s supervisor, says that vendors typically wait to harvest their goods until the day before they sell them, ensuring that products are as tasty as possible.
“Everything you get from the farmer’s market is absolutely the freshest you can find, and it is grown lovingly,” she said.
Some of the booths at the market will be staying open past noon to sell their products to those coming to the Celebration later in the day.
In the afternoon, the Tuscaloosa Parks and Recreation Authority will host a Kids Zone. This area will open at 5 p.m. and include a climbing wall, a mechanical shark, laser tag and inflatables. Visitors can see a magician perform, be drawn by a caricature artist or get a temporary airbrush tattoo.
“We have a good smattering of stuff for all different ages,” said Becky Booker, marketing manager at the PARA.