By Charles Sercombe
This year’s Hamtramck Labor Day Festival is going to be a little extra special.
That’s because it’s the 40th anniversary for the festival.
Way back when, in 1979 to be exact, then-Mayor Robert Kozaren put together a modest little festival to lift up the spirits of residents.
There was a need for such lifting. The Chrysler Corporation had just abruptly announced that it was closing the city’s number one taxpayer: the Dodge Main factory.
Little did Kozaren know the festival would grow and grow. Sure, there have been some lean years, and the festival has both expanded and contracted over the years.
One year it was cancelled by a state-appointed emergency financial manager, Lou Schimmel.
You could say he was a bit of a Grinch.
Fast forward to today, and once again, a major taxpayer to the city, GM, has announced it is shutting down its Poletown Plant.
Sheesh, does bad news come every 40 years?
Well, never mind all that. This weekend features great food — including Polish specialties — live music, an always entertaining midway with rides, and our favorite: cold, cold beer.
This weekend also sees the return of wrestling.
On Sunday at 4 p.m., International Big Time Wrestling is presenting a heavyweight match between Mysterious Movado and Kongo Kong.
On Labor Day Monday, the annual canoe race takes over Jos. Campau at Edwin, starting at noon.
This event has taken on a life of its own, and for many it’s the highlight of the weekend.
If you have never experienced it, just take our word: it’s good old-fashioned rowdy fun for the whole family. Also, be sure to bring water balloons.
You’ll see why.
Following the canoe race, the annual Polish Day Parade kicks off at 1 p.m., also on Jos. Campau, starting at Holbrook.
This year’s Parade Marshal is polka legend, Marshall “Big Daddy” Lackowski.
Also, once again the best of Detroit bands and other performers will be playing back-to-back on two stages all weekend.
On Sunday evening, it’s Hamtramck reunion night, with local faves Dannay D hitting the stage at 6 p.m., and The Polish Muslims closing out the evening starting at 9 p.m.
Without a doubt, this festival offers the best music you will get for free this weekend – three times better than that overrated, overcrowded, and overhyped festival held in Royal Oak.
We won’t even mention the name of it.
Hamtramck, folks, has the real stuff.
Which is one reason this year’s theme is the city’s unofficial motto: “Only in Hamtramck.”
If we only had a dollar for every time that we said or heard that phrase (usually said while one hits their forehead with their palm).
As of Thursday, the weather forecast looked pretty good, with temperatures expected to be in the 70s and, for the most part, clear skies.
The festival runs this Saturday through Monday, officially starting at noon and ending at 10 p.m. each day, but there is usually a little wiggle room when it comes to closing time.
Oh, and kids? We hate to break this to you, but next Tuesday it’s back to school – summer vacation is over.
If it makes you feel any better kids, adults hate it too – summer being mostly over, that is.
Aug. 30, 2019