Hamtramck Festival provides a rocking end to summer

Once again, the Polish Day Parade, held on Monday, capped a perfect weekend for the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival.



By Charles Sercombe

          By all accounts, it looks like the annual Hamtramck Labor Day Festival was another successful weekend.

          Although overshadowed by Royal Oak’s Arts, Beats & Eats, Hamtramck’s festival drew a decent-sized crowd over its three days.

          Co-organizer Konrad Maziarz said bills are still coming in as well as receipts so he could not pinpoint whether there was a profit this year, but he said he felt that at worse the festival broke even.

          But success isn’t just measured in money, he added.

          “All in all, the festival was a success for the community,” Maziarz said. “It brought a lot of people into town.”

          If there were any complaints heard over the weekend it was that there was only one polka band included in the music line-up.

          But Maziarz, who did not organize the music schedule, said it’s part of a changing demographic that the festival is reaching out to.

          “I noticed a lot of 25-30 years old,” he said. “We were getting a good buzz.”

          If it is a younger, hipper crowd that is being sought, then lining up top garage and cutting edge performers was the way to go. It sure made Royal Oak’s music offering seem “square,” as Mayor Karen Majewski pointed out on her Facebook page.

          Certainly no one could complain about the weather as Mother Nature provided sunny skies and mild temps throughout the weekend.

          The number of food and art vendors also increased this year, making the festival grounds appear more crowded.

          Of course the Polish Day Parade on Monday afternoon attracted thousands of visitors and dignitaries.

          Although he is not seeking re-election and is about to retire, Sen. Carl Levin returned as he has for many years to march in the parade with his brother, Congressman Sander Levin.

          And perhaps not coincidentally, Levin’s would-be successor, Congressman Gary Peters marched in the parade as well, backed by a large number of supporters who chanted “Gary, Gary, Gary.”

          Despite the growing number of scandals involving his administration, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano also participated in the parade. But at one point in the parade there were some onlookers ominously holding tomatoes, as if ready to throw them at Ficano’s escort car.

          The tossing of fruit and vegetables isn’t without precedent. When President George Bush (the first) visited Hamtramck and marched down a part of Jos. Campau a bystander threw broccoli at him.

          It was unclear what the point of that was, but Bush had famously said he didn’t like broccoli, which apparently drew the ire of broccoli lovers.

          But we digress.

Crime-wise – something that has been a major concern this summer — Police Chief Max Garbarino said there were no significant incidents, other than the occasional disorderly conducts.

          As for next year, it will once again depend on the city giving festival organizers the OK to proceed. Maziarz said plans call for expanding the volunteer base and going after corporate sponsorship now that the festival has been firmly established as a 501(c) non-profit organization.

          Chalk up another festival year and another great party to usher summer out.

4 Responses to Hamtramck Festival provides a rocking end to summer

  1. Sam

    September 6, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    Stop beating around the bush. The festival was a total failure this year. Attendance was miserable and you know it. You wouldn’t be asking the city to take over if it was really a success.

  2. was there

    September 9, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    a failure? the crowds looked as good as usual. maybe a little down because they didn’t have as much time to promote. Still, saw plenty of people having a great time. not sure what festival you were at…

  3. Vanessa

    September 10, 2013 at 10:54 am

    I’ve been going to the Hamtramck festival for the last 30 years that I can recall. This year’s festival (in my opinion) was an flop. The booths used to be on the sidewalks and the streets were filled. The booths this year were dismal at best. Seriously a Sam’s club membership booth? The worst years I have seen were the years that didn’t include the fireman’s booth serving beer and chili. Now I’m not sure if that’s just a coincidence or what but I do know they usually have the largest crowd there. This year where there booth used to stand was porta pottys and a religious group passing out propaganda. I’m not so sure that people are going to be drawn back down to Hamtramck for the festival to be solicited with religion or for the always fun time of signing up for a Sam’s club membership among other fun things. I completely understand that the times and demographics are changing and surely the “hipster” crown was ever present and the music venue has changed but I don’t think that’s going to be enough to bring in enough money to make this thing sustainable. Also I saw a few fights there or near there on my way home in just the one day I attended. I’m not sure that happens that regularly at other festivals but in Hamtramck it seems to be the norm. It just isn’t the same anymore.

  4. Hammed

    September 11, 2013 at 11:11 am


    Religious propaganda have been going on for a long while in this festival by

    Christian churches.

    How come you started noticing it when it’s done by Muslims.

    At least they were confined to one table, not spread throughout the festival like

    other Christian groups.

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