Head just outside the city limits of most Texas towns and you’ll start to see them. Brightly-painted trailers and lean-tos selling fireworks – with big signs that say buy one get five free!
Danny Turner’s stand with Half Off Fireworks is the first one you get to heading west on 290 out of Austin.
“We’ve been doing this for almost ten years,” Danny said.
And those 10 years have included at least five of an ongoing drought. When the heightened risk for wildfire made some hesitant to celebrate with a bang.
“There are some very tight years,” Danny said. “It’s like when we ranch – there are cattle years that are better than other years and you just make it through the thin and hope for the thick.”
Tom Hancock is hoping for a big year. He’s run the fireworks stand just across the way from Danny Turner’s for the past 17 years.
“It started out as a fundraiser for my son and I for the Dripping Springs baseball team,” Turner said. “We raised money to go off to our tournaments that we had. When I retired from coaching in 2005, my son and I just decided to do it as a part time job.”
Instead of a baseball trip, fireworks sales now represent supplemental income.
“It helps offset the bills as you get older so, yeah, we look forward to good years,” Turner said.
This year could be one of those. Cousins Ryan and Olivia Kohler are folding and unfolding 20 dollar bills as they stare wide-eyed at the selection stacked before them.
“Well she wanted some fireworks for her birthday and we got poppers at Target but we want more,” Olivia said.
Both fireworks stands are experiencing increased business so far because burn bans and fireworks limits aren’t keeping people away.
“It’ll be good because of all the rain we’ve had and that’s pretty contingent on what kind of season we have – if it’s been real dry, people are real paranoid about buying,” Hancock said.
“People aren’t afraid to go out and shoot things,” Turner said. “It’s been so dry in the past. And it’s very much safer this year than what we’ve had in who knows how long.”
Ryan and Olivia aren’t particularly focused on the drought, or our final emergence of it. They’re just excited about fireworks. And if you are too, Hancock and Turner advise you to shop early for the fourth. They’re expecting to sell out sooner than in year’s past.