Our nation's 237th birthday is arriving in less than a month, and for most people across southwest Kansas, that ignites thoughts of fireworks, barbecues and outdoor fun with friends and family not to mention the heritage of liberty that we can trace back to the American Revolution.

However, for people planning family or individual activities to celebrate Independence Day weekend, there's also another opportunity that has drawn a lot of local interest since it was inaugurated four years ago. That is the annual Finney County Historical Society Flea Market, a bazaar-style gathering of merchants, crafts people and artisans on the lawn just south of the Finney County Museum in Finnup Park.

The fourth annual market this year is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 6, the Saturday that follows the Fourth of July.

Last year's flea market included nearly two-dozen booths, where shoppers could stroll by and visit with vendors offering the crowd everything from candles, antiques, collectibles, tools and food to baked goods, artwork, primitives, toys, unique apparel, handbags, purses and other handcrafts. In addition, our organization's members and volunteers stocked the museum courtyard with donated goods for sale, such as furniture, housewares, electronics, toys, bicycles, games, holiday decorations, home decor items, exercise equipment, cookware, and yard and garden objects.

Shop, sell or donate

We hope you'll put the flea market on your Independence Day weekend schedule, and in addition to sharing in the experience, you're also welcome to reserve a space, if you're interested in a booth of your own; and bring us your gently used items, if you would like to donate them to help support the museum's courtyard sale at the flea market.

Various groups and individuals participated during the three previous flea markets, and those who already have made reservations to return, or get involved for the first time, include people offering origami, Scentsy products, plants, yard art, antiques, Tupperware, craft goods and CDs, as well as lots and lots of additional items.

While they're taking in the array of goods, market-goers can purchase meals prepared on-site by Finney County pork producers Larry and Barbara Goss.

If you're among those interested in supporting the museum and our historical society programs by donating items to sell, you can reach us 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at 272-3664, or stop by at 403 S. Fourth St., during those hours. We'll also be glad to come and pick up anything you might want to provide.

It's important, by the way, to note that our fourth annual flea market is Garden City's original craft, art, collectible and bargain festival in Finnup Park, and that it isn't connected with a different event scheduled nearby in June.

Don't forget historic tour this weekend

It's also important to note that there's another opportunity coming up even sooner this weekend, in fact. The 2013 Garden City Historic Homes Tour is taking place 1:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday, offering the chance to visit inside five homes and buildings with significant links to the community's past.

Tickets for the Sunday afternoon homes tour are $15 each, and available at any of the stops, including the Ciddie Stevens Queen Anne Victorian house, 508 N. Sixth; the original Salyer home, 1012 N. Main; the Community Congregational Church, Third and Walnut streets; and the Z.T. Nelson Building, home of Illusions Hair Salon at 414 N. Main St., as well as the adjacent Regan Building apartment of Christopher Cruz.

We're hoping you'll make the historic William Fulton House in Finnup Park your final stop, and then take time to step over to the nearby outdoor courtyard of the museum for a reception, with refreshments, music by Al Miller and a display of 12 paintings and drawings depicting homes, hotels and other structures that comprise part of the community's history. The tour is hosted by the Finney County Women's Chamber and the FCHS, and sponsored by Golden Plains Credit Union and Coldwell Banker, the Real Estate Shoppe.

Whether you want to visit this weekend at some of the places whose owners and occupants have shaped Garden City's growth and development, take advantage of a once-per-year outdoor shopping festival in July, or do both. We hope to see you soon at the Finney County Historical Society.