Labor Day is a big deal in Warrick County. Boonville Mayor Charlie Wyatt said “The event is for all workers, both union and non-union.”
For three days, Sept. 2 through 5 at the Warrick County Fairgrounds, the Labor Day Association will host the 130th Labor Day Celebration. It could very well be one of the largest in this region. It certainly is the oldest in the State of Indiana and possibly the second oldest celebration in the nation.
The event involves 60 unions. There is no admission and no parking fees at this festival, plus there will be free carnival rides.
All weekend, there are food and vendor booths, along with a rummage sale. Friday night there is an Arena Cross bike race. Friday and Saturday night wanna-be singers can enjoy open Karaoke night. There is every imaginable pageant from Queen Pagaent, to the Junior Miss Pagaent to the Little Miss and Little Mister Pagaents. Saturday night, you can hear the rumble of the Farmers and Antique Tractor Pull. Each morning, the cutest baby and pet contests are on the schedule. Sunday, maybe you would like to participate in the Poker Run or the Demolition Derby.
Sunday afternoon is also a time to learn and share. Rosemary Feurer, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Northern Illinois University, Department of History, will talk on “The History of Limiting Workers Rights Through ‘Right to Work’ Laws.”
Peter McGuire is thought to be the “father” of Labor Day. In 1872, he rallied 100,000 workers to go on strike. They marched through the street of New York City, demanding better work conditions.
In 1882, the first U.S. Labor Day celebration took place in New York City. The local labor unions had made an impact and they wanted to share their successes.
Early in the history of the United States, work conditions were tough and the hours were long. Women and children worked for very little pay and often in dangerous conditions. Workers began to organize themselves into labor unions. Unions fought for higher pay and shorter workdays. They also fought to place limits on the age of children in the work force.
The first Labor Day Celebration in this area was in Princeton in 1886. It was not until 1894 that Labor Day became an official U.S. Holiday to be celebrated on the first Monday in September. I encourage you to read the history on the Labor Day Association website www.labordayassoc.com/history.asp.
The grand finale of the Warrick County Labor Day Celebration is the Labor Day Parade! It starts at the fairgrounds at 9 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 5. Come out and enjoy to celebrate Labor Day 2016.
Another celebration is right around the corner and that is the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay. It snakes through Warrick County on Saturday, Sept. 10, starting at 1:30 p.m. and ending at 4 p.m. as it is passed off to Vanderburgh County.