Considering that 2022 will see record-high prices for state-approved fireworks due to the escalating cost of freight, fuel, raw materials and other factors, getting the most bang for your buck has never been more crucial for the budget-conscious wanting to celebrate Independence Day with their own snap, crackle and pop.

Vital, too, are the funds raised by area nonprofits through the efforts of volunteers working inside those toasty stands without air-conditioning for the days leading up to and including the Fourth of July.

What will they be selling? That question begs six more: What’s new? What’s loud? What’s colorful? How long is it? What’s unique? What’s worth the money?

Valley Oak Press’s annual fireworks buyer’s guide has the answers. Every new firework planned for California this season has been tested for performance, duration, distinctiveness and comparative value. This also goes for last year’s debuting products that, due to unprecedented shipping issues, were neither reviewable by press time nor widely available during the selling period. Thus, the 2021 freshman class is being treated as new and not part of our list of the highest-rated returning favorites.

Fireworks are listed by price, highest to lowest. (Buy-one-get-one items, or BOGOs, were judged alone; prices shown as doubled since they require a multiple buy.) A star-spangled shoutout to the Folsom Fire Department and Station 39 for hosting this season’s test.

Let the sparks fly!

What’s New:

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Priced at $109.99, Candy Paint from TNT Fireworks is the year’s most expensive new fountain.

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Iron Eagle from Phantom Fireworks is a rousing fountain, but too brief for the $99.99 buy-one-get-one price.

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La Calaca from TNT Fireworks earns ‘Best of Show’ honors for this season’s buyer’s guide.

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Winning the ‘Best New Finale’ title in 2022 is Light Symphony from TNT.

— Candy Paint (TNT), $109.99 – Love the wide spread of sparks and variety of colors, but at this price the fountain needs to be a finale. Even at over 2 minutes, it’s too meh to be that. TNT has fountains with similar effects at half the price. 146 seconds. 3 stars

— Atomic Salsa (TNT), $99.99 – Spicy 500-gram fountain impresses with terrific height and titanium crackle that produces extra flash and clatter. Fountain is a rewrap of Centennial XL, a commemorative fountain sold for TNT’s 100th anniversary in 2020. 75 seconds. 3 stars

— Iron Eagle Fountain (Phantom), $99.99 (BOGO) – Love the awesome-looking eagle-shaped packaging. Like the performance that includes a loud whistle, patriotic hues and titanium strobes. Displeased with the duration at the price point. 57 seconds. 3 stars

— Light Symphony (TNT), $79.99 – “Best New Finale” honoree scores with a concerto of effects that builds to a rollicking finale of wide white crackling sparks. Before that is an exposition of palms, fish, titanium crackle, neon green and terrific height. 130 seconds. 5 stars

— Ellie (TNT), $70 (BOGO) – Elephant-themed fountain, reincarnated from the newly discontinued Power On fountain (meaning it’s a rewrap), packs a lot of crackling sparks in its trunk. 89 seconds. 4 stars

— Large Mouth (TNT), $70 (BOGO) – Five colors erupt within multiple effects, one producing a unique water droplet sound. Cute fishy label and wide-ranging sparks, but too short a duration for the price. 60 seconds. 3 stars

— Bella (TNT), $70 (BOGO) – Pretty butterfly-shaped fountain builds in intensity with effects that include crackling sparks and flares. Fleeting, though. 60 seconds. 3 stars

— Tentacles (TNT), $70 (BOGO) – A happy, pink octopus squirts not ink, but a crescendo of crackling sparks that grows in diameter and decibels for a thrilling, albeit sub-minute-long performance. 54 seconds. 4 stars

— Master Flash Fountain (Phantom), $59.99 – Nice cracking sparks and whizzing colorful fish effect provide a passable performance. 110 seconds. 3 stars

— Storm Runner Fountain (Phantom), $59.99 – “Best of Show” runner-up wows big time with some of the biggest and brightest crackles and palms seen in a fountain. Climax of a firefly rain shower measured at an unlawful 30 feet in radius is unique and breathtaking. 80 seconds. 5 stars

— La Calaca (TNT), $49.99 – “Best of Show” winner never lets up on the fun and excitement, from instantaneously deafening and mighty crackling sparks to a flashing skull climax. Theme honors Mexico’s Day of the Dead instead of America’s independence, but who cares? 80 seconds. 5 stars

— Bottle of Sparks (TNT), $28.99 (BOGO) – Nice, big sparks, but more impressive than the fleeting performance is the fountain’s cool bottle shape. 20 seconds. 2 stars

— Majestic Unicorns (TNT), $24.99 (3 pack) – Relatively quiet trio of cones impresses with long-lasting fish and other effects. Majestic indeed. 43-47 seconds. 4 stars

— Mighty Sword (TNT), $10.99 – A sword-shaped handheld emits crackling sparks. Not so mighty, but it’s $2 less and 10 seconds longer than Phantom’s version. 47 seconds. 2 stars

— Neon Smoke Balls (Phantom), $3.99 (6 pack) – Each ball produces a pretty, near-florescent cloud. 20 seconds. 4 stars

— Strobe Sticks (Phantom), $3.99 (10 pack) –One of the better strobe fireworks comes in red and green. 20 seconds each. 4 stars

— Unicorn Poop (TNT), $2.10 – Yet another scatological theme based on the vintage and ashy black snakes novelty. 20 seconds. 2 stars

Earning the title of “Best Assortment” is TNT’s rookie sensation American Dream Team ($499). If you’re planning at least four finale-class fountains for your show, this is a wise buy even at five Benjamins. All seven pieces are winners. In order from excellent to very good: Opening Show, Wild Side, Delirium, Atomic Salsa, Wizard Alley, Majestic Momma and Jungle Flower.

Best of the Rest:

— Opening Show (TNT), $99.99 – Budget permitting, this envy-causing finale is a 500-gram must-have. Count to 100 seconds and back up. Trust us. 130 seconds.

— Living the Dream (TNT), $84.99 – Like ordering TNT’s superbly named Wild Side (see above) and saying, “make it a double.” 120 seconds.

— Coral Reef (Phantom), $64.99 – Awesome 500-gram fan finale emits radiant colors and clamorous whistles and crackles. Same as TNT’s Delirium ($74.99). 105 seconds.

— Pyrotastic (DFS), $60.11 – 12 tubes + 500 grams = 1 memorable performance with diverse effects. 181 seconds.

— Fiery Meadow Flower Fountain (Phantom), $59.99 – Combo fountain-wheel features titanium crackles and spinning finale. 68 seconds.

— Brew Haha (Phantom), $59.99 – Beer stein-shaped fountain with vibrant colors and a loud opening whistle must be an IPA because it has – get ready – Incredible Pyro Action. Bad joke, great firework. 145 seconds.

— Illuminati Triangle (Phantom), $59.99 – Long-lasting fountain features multi-color pearls, sprays, flying stars and titanium crackle. 184 seconds.

— Psychedelic (DFS), $59.65 – Nonstop crackle, ice-white palms, multi-colored showers – crowd-pleasing fan fountain. 96 seconds.

— Wild Side (TNT), $45.99 – Like watching the super-charged final half-minute of TNT’s Opening Show for a full minute. No climax because it’s all climax. 60 seconds.

— Crazy Bug Fountain (TNT), $45.99 – Amazes with triple swarm effect. Great crackles, reds, greens and palms. 95 seconds.

— Moondance Premier (Phantom), $42.99 – Super-sized version of Phantom’s little Moondance Fountain. 100 seconds.

— Red White & Blue Jubilee (Phantom), $42.99 – Patriotically pleasing with white chrysanthemums, and red and bluish fish and pearls. 110 seconds.

— TNT Torch (TNT), $39.99 – Shimmering golden stars are reminiscent of cones from the early 1970s. 72 seconds.

— Wicked Wizard (DFS), $35.95 – Love the height, purple droplets and titanium added for sharper crackles and brighter white. 74 seconds.

— Flower Pot Fountain (Phantom), $32.99 – Low-noise fountain enthralls with multicolored droplets against a near-constant shower of silver glitter. 52 seconds.

— War Fountain (Phantom), $32.99 – Colors change with each stage of fiery crackles. 82 seconds.

— Retro (DFS), $31.88 – Former “Best in Show” and “Best New Fountain” winner is the state’s most exciting minute-long fountain. 58 seconds.

— Serenity (Phantom), $29.99 – Noiseless fountain opens with lovely lava lamp-like lumps and peacefully pleases with seven colors and white chrysanthemums. 59 seconds.

— Main Squeeze (TNT), $28.99 – Love the insane sparks at the one-minute mark. 83 seconds.

— Whimsy (DFS), $27.23 – Lower-priced twin of TNT’s Ellie. (See above).

— Toxic Barrel (TNT), $19.99 – Green toxic sludge blobs and loud crackles make for pretty poison. 45 seconds.

— Flaring Stars Fountain (Phantom), $16.99 – Virtually noiseless beauty featuring swarming fish effect in red, gold and green. 54 seconds.

— Phantom Dragon Slayer (Phantom), $12.99 – Solid pick with white, blue and lemon chrysanthemums, rowdy crackles and red stars. 66 seconds.

— Crickets (DFS), $3.67 – Best of the under-$5 fountains is loud and colorful. 42 seconds.

At least three organizations are planning booths in Galt: Galt Youth Baseball in the parking lot next to Burger King, Blue Angel of Hope at 12792 Casity Lane, and Galt FFA Boosters.

For additional product information, visit the retailers’ websites: TNT, tntfireworks.com; Phantom, fireworks.com; and Discount Fireworks Superstore, dfsfireworks.com. Check local laws and take all safety measures before buying and lighting.