Celebrating the American worker

USED BOOK SALE: A used book sale at the Big Rapids Community Library is one of the many events scheduled this Labor Day weekend. (Pioneer file photos)

Riverdays Festival highlights Labor Day weekend events

MECOSTA COUNTY — For many, Labor Day weekend is a time to gather with family and friends, fire up the grill and enjoy one last hurrah before the start of another school year.

Not only does Labor Day mark the unofficial end of summer, it also is a time to pay tribute to the contributions and achievements of the American worker.

Labor Day was started during the labor movement of the late 19th century. At the height of the Industrial Revolution, many American workers had to work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week just to make a basic living. Those workers often had to deal with unsafe working conditions in unsanitary facilities.

During that time, labor unions became more vocal and began to strike in protest of poor working conditions, which at times became violent. The labor movement also gave rise to a “parade” on Sept. 5, 1882, where 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from New York City’s City Hall to Union Square.

The idea of celebrating the American worker on the first Monday of September caught on in other areas of the country, but it wasn’t until June 28, 1894 that it became a national holiday.

The spirit of Labor Day lives on as people across America get ready to celebrate the efforts of workers from all walks of life on Monday.

Several thousand people are expected to come to Big Rapids throughout the weekend to participate in the 10th annual Riverdays Festival. Connie Koepke, executive director of the Mecosta County Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, expects most of those people to come from within Mecosta County.

“We do get some people from outside Mecosta County,” Koepke said. “In the past couple of years, families seemed to stay closer to home for vacations, which helps the local economy.”

More than 30 events are scheduled throughout Mecosta and Osceola counties this weekend. Most of those events are scheduled as part of the Riverdays Festival, including a used book sale at the Big Rapids Community Library, the annual yard sale at the Old Jail, a “Street Dance” in downtown Big Rapids, the 43rd annual Labor Day Arts and Crafts Festival at Hemlock Park and more.

RUN: The Over the River and Thru the Woods 5K Run will start at 9 a.m. on Saturday behind Big Rapids Middle School.

“It’s a five-day celebration that has something for everybody of every age group. What else can you ask for?” Koepke said. “There’s entertainment for everyone, from kids day and senior activities to free family movies and musical entertainment. … Most people are familiar with (Riverdays) now and make their plans accordingly, because they know Labor Day weekend is Riverdays weekend.”

There are many events happening this Labor Day weekend in Mecosta and Osceola counties. Below is a list of events celebrating Labor Day, the American worker and the end of summer.

 

Canadian Lakes

  • 8 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, all you can eat pancake breakfast at the Alpine Haus. The cost is $5 and free for children younger than 5. The event is sponsored by the Canadian Lakes Players Relay for Life Team to benefit the American Cancer Society.
  • 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Friends of the Morton Township Library are hosting a used book sale at The Castle. Proceeds from the event will benefit library programming.
  • Noon to 4 p.m. on Monday, Classic Car and Bike Show at The Castle. Vehicles can be registered for $10 in advance or $12 at the event. For more information contact Marshall Henry at (231) 972-4405.

 

Evart

  • 7 a.m. on Saturday, Evart Car Show at Riverside Park. For more information contact Bob Szelag at (231) 734-5949.

 

Big Rapids

2011 Big Rapids Riverdays Festival schedule:

Saturday

  • 8:30 a.m. Big Bad Wolf Adventure Race at Northend Riverside Park (check in starts at 7:30 a.m.)
  • 9 a.m. Over the River and Thru the Woods 5K Run behind Big Rapids Middle School (registration starts at 8 a.m.)
  • 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Used Book Sale at the Big Rapids Community Library
  • 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Antique Tractor and Old Car Display at Hemlock Park
  • 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jail Yard Sale at the Old Jail
  • 9 a.m. Bike Rodeo for ages 2 to 11 at Hemlock Park
  • 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pawfect Day in the Park at Hemlock Park with the American Red Cross
  • 2 to 4 p.m. Artworks Kids’ Crafts: Pop art and cut-out creations
  • Noon and 5 p.m. STAGE-M performance at the Big Rapids Band Shell (Disney Musical Review)
  • 3 p.m. Band Shell Entertainment featuring Susan Morris & Bluemonk Jazz
  • 6 to 10 p.m. Street Dance in downtown Big Rapids
  • 7 p.m. Band shell Entertainment featuring Sinjon Smith

 

Sunday

  • 1 to 7 p.m. Community Worship and Praise Him in the Park 3: God is with us now, at the Big Rapids Band Shell
  • 8:30 p.m. Family outdoor film, “Galaxy Quest,” at the Big Rapids Band Shell

 

Monday

  • 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Classic Car Show at Pine Street and Mitchell Creek Park
  • 2 to 4 p.m. Artworks Kids’ Crafts: Make an Impression in Clay
  • 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Annual Arts and Craft Show at Hemlock Park
  • Noon to 2 p.m. Artworks Music at Pocket Park featuring Kelly Quinn

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