By Charles Sercombe
Hamtramck’s annual goodbye party to summer is set to go this weekend.
Yes, the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival kicks off this Saturday (Sept. 1) and continues through Monday (Sept. 3).
This is the 39th year for the festival, which has seen plenty of ups and downs (and ins and outs) over the years. But, for the past several years the festival has enjoyed a rebirth and has seen a dramatic increase in attendees and vendors.
This year should be no exception.
Much of the credit goes to a stellar live music line-up. The highlight this weekend is Motown legend Martha and the Vandellas, who will close out the festival on Monday at 9 p.m.
For those not of a certain age, the group is best known for the summertime favorite – and national hit – “Heat Wave.”
And also check out some of their other big hits — “Nowhere To Run,” “Dancing in the Street” or “Jimmy Mack.”
The group will be performing a special 30-minute tribute to the late Aretha Franklin – something that is not to be missed. (Editor’s note: This is the “something special” we hinted at in the headline.)
Also performing are some of the best rock and alternative bands in Detroit.
Besides live music, the festival has great food, a midway with rides and games and many booths selling clothing, art and all sorts of other things.
Two highlights of the holiday weekend include the Polish Day Parade and a “canoe race” on Monday, starting at noon, at Jos. Campau and Edwin. These are human powered “canoes” made of wood and wheels.
There is plenty of rowdy crowd action as well, with onlookers encouraged to throw water balloons or squirt the racers with water guns. Heck, some even toss buckets of water.
It’s good, clean fun. Bring a bar soap and you can take a shower. (We are kidding about that part.)
Following the canoe race, the annual Polish Day Parade takes over Jos. Campau and the festival grounds, starting at 1 p.m. and lasting about an hour – short and sweet.
For many folks the best part is just hanging out with friends, downing a few cold brews and people watching.
Festival co-organizer Shannon Lowell said the only unknown is the weather and weather – er, whether — the festival will dodge a washout.
So far, it looks like there might be a rain/storm possibility all weekend — but that forecast was on Thursday when we went to press and can change anytime.
On the other hand, a little rain never stopped this party – it’s Hamtramck after all. Well, there have been times.
The festival has always been about promoting the city.
That is still the mission, Lowell said.
“It helps reinvigorate the downtown,” he said.
The yearly cost of the festival is about $85,000 – of which $25,000 is spent on extra police patrols on the festival grounds.
The city’s Downtown Development Authority has donated $10,000 to help defray costs. Other revenue streams come from vendor rentals, food and alcohol sales and about $25,000 from the midway company.
Festival hours are noon to 10 p.m. daily.
Afterward, the city’s many bars will be bustling with live music. Be sure to stick around and enjoy the night scene.
Also, word is if there is a rain out, the bands scheduled to play on the south stage (the big stage) will move to Ant Hall on Caniff, south of Jos. Campau and next to the Hamtramck Library.
Bands scheduled to play on the north stage (the smaller stage) will move in the case of a rainout to Trixie’s Bar on Carpenter, between Jos. Campau and Mackay.
Aug. 31, 2018