Once a year, on Labor Day, the entire nation comes together in celebration of the American labor force.
Many Chautauqua County residents celebrate in two ways: The Jamestown Labor Day Festival and the Findley Lake Harvest Festival. The two events hold strong traditions that unite the community to recognize the hard work and dedication the people put towards the place they call home.
The annual Findley Lake Harvest Festival will be held this weekend. On Sunday, the 33rd annual Jamestown Labor Day Festival will also take place.
P-J file photo
The 33rd annual Jamestown Labor Day Festival will begin at noon on Sunday at Bergman Park in Jamestown with food from local vendors, music by area musicians, arts and crafts, kids' activities, a 5k run, a labor award ceremony and a massive fireworks display by Zambelli.
"This is one of the true great traditional events here in the Jamestown area, and it's one of the largest day-long events that the area supports every year," said Mayor Sam Teresi. "In addition to being a great time with thousands of area residents showing up with great food, music and entertainment, it's also a fitting tribute to what we feel is the best workforce in the United States. It's a great way to celebrate and pay tribute to the working men and women who've built our community over the years."
According to Teresi, the event was put together in the 1980s by four men: Mayor Steve Carlson, city parks and recreation director Russ Diethrick, Phil Morris executive director of the Chautauqua County Arts Council, and Jon Gren of Gren Distributing. Gren received a grant from Anheuser-Busch to start a community celebration and then approached the other three to effectively become the fathers of the current Labor Day Festival, said Teresi.
"It's a great event with tradition that is a fundraiser opportunity for local organizations, but most importantly it's an opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate the great workforce, and what I refer to as the miracle of hard work," he said.
The festival will feature many of the traditional staples that have defined the event throughout the decades. Last year, live music was available at two stages, and that will continue again this year. The kids' carnival area and the YMCA "Big Challenge" will also make a return. Bingo, magic shows, a balloon man and karaoke are among other activities.
"The Dan Feather 5k Run, that benefits the Chautauqua Striders, kicks off the Labor Day Festival at 9:30 a.m. with registration starting at 8 a.m.," said Julia Ciesla-Hanley, City of Jamestown Parks Department recreation coordinator. "The event continues with the arts and crafts festival at 11 a.m. and the food vendors opening at noon."
There are about 18 food vendors of a wide variety, she said. Plus, all the food vendors are either nonprofit groups or are vendors representing nonprofit causes.
"Any time you spend money at the festival you know that it is going back to the community," she continued.
There are a lot of familiar people who come back every year, but a new group this year is the Jamestown Babe Ruth World Series that will be taking over Italian sausage and fried dough. Another new addition this year is the Lillian Dickson Playground group that is working on bringing a new playground to Bergman Park, which will be selling hotdogs.
The festival will culminate with the presentation by Jamestown Area Central Labor Council AFL-CIO of the George Ritzer Labor Award at 4 p.m.
"The Labor Day Festival is held to recognize our labor, and the George Ritzer award is part of that," said Ciesla-Hanley. "Color guard will kick off that ceremony, and then they will honor someone with the award."
Then at 9 p.m. guests will have the opportunity to catch one of the best fireworks displays in the area, according to Ciesla-Hanley. The show is comprised of nearly 2,000 shells of varying sizes, and the length of the show is 720 seconds which is an average of 2.7 shells being fired per second.
"It's 12 minutes of shock and awe," she said. "The great thing about Zambelli is that they are an American company who makes all their shells in America."
The rain day for the event is scheduled for Monday. Admission is free, but parking is $3. For more information, including a schedule of events, visit jamestownny.net.
The 15th annual Findley Lake Harvest Festival will begin at 4 p.m. on Friday with a fireworks display starting at 9 p.m., and will continue through Sunday.
Many activities are scheduled throughout the weekend such as: food vendors, beer and wine tasting, arts and crafts, a used book sale, coolest grandparent contest, and Kids Got Talent.
"We have about 35 vendors that come back every year because they like this event," said Jeff Horner, event coordinator and vice president of the Findley Lake Chamber of Commerce.
There will also be live music throughout the event. The band Endless Summer will be playing at the gazebo from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m on Friday. Other musicians include: Ed Hart, Barefoot Sarah, Lance Kinal, Irish Players, Marty's Bubble Gum Machine, Rob Vance and Shally, Jeff Maas and DJ EDogg. The music will be almost constant, Horner said.
According to Horner, the event is perfect for families and friends to enjoy a day at the lake.
"The lake is in the background, but you'll be able to watch the boats, and you'll have a great view of the flares and fireworks on the lake on Friday night," said Horner.
The event is especially kid friendly, so much so that it includes a talent show featuring local youth at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
"Kids Got Talent gets bigger every year," said Horner. "These kids are amazing, and each year they thrill us."
The festival is held each year to promote community, and celebrate the workers in the county.
"It's an end of summer event," said Horner. "It's something everyone will enjoy, and want to come back. So, come out and enjoy the lake."
The festival is located on Main Street in Findley Lake. Admission and parking are free. For more information, including a schedule of events, visit findleylakeinfo.org.