The Conway Symphony Orchestra treated local residents to a free pre-holiday concert at the annual Lights Over the Lake at Beaverfork Park on Saturday.

Vicki Crockett, general manager of the Conway Symphony Orchestra, said the organization has performed a free outdoor concert every year since 1986, two years after the symphony was formed.

Conductor Israel Getzov said, "The Conway Symphony enjoys being part of the community. This is sort of our gift to the community. It gives us the opportunity to play for free. It's fun because it's an Independence Day celebration. Music and Independence Day have always gone together, traditionally. We're glad to supply the music to help Conway celebrate Independence Day."

He said the symphony would perform two John Philip Sousa marches, music from "Star Wars" and "E.T.," a medley from "Oklahoma," a tribute to Irving Berlin, and the "Armed Forces Salute."

At the park Saturday night, Bliss Hickey, president of the Conway Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors, said the event was the 24th annual.

"It's the finale for the concert season. The season starts in the fall," he said. "It's very family friendly. Everyone can come out, have a picnic, swim, hear a concert and get ready for the Fourth of July. I think it's become a real event people look forward to."

Jewell Woodard and Don Joyner, both of Conway, were seated in lawn chairs waiting for the concert to begin, as has been customary for the two.

"I don't think I've ever missed one," Woodard said.

Joyner said he missed the concert last year because it was canceled due to rain.

"The fireworks over this beautiful lake is just superb. I appreciate all the people who come out here in this hot weather," he said.

Lanette Vanness of Conway and Rhonda Burkhalter of Ward, Ark., were among those present.

"I enjoy coming," Vanness said. "I enjoy fireworks, period. And I enjoy the Conway Symphony Orchestra."

Karen Ferrer of Conway was holding her almost-1-year-old son, Thomas. She and her husband, Gabriel, brought their son and their two daughters, Juliana, 5, and Carolina, 3, to the event.

"It's very nice, although a little hot out," she said. "They (the children) came out to see the fireworks. They haven't seen any in a couple of years."

Hickey thanked the audience for attending and noted, "We have had a great season. We already have plans for the 2009-2010 concert season."

A fireworks show followed the concert.

(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by e-mail at rachel.dickerson@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1277. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)