For many of us, Labor Day is synonymous with the end of summer. Sure, the toasty sunshine and humid air stick around for a few more weeks, but all other signs of summer begin to fade with the start of September. School resumes the morning roll call and participation check list, the work days become more hectic and drawn-out, weeks turn into a blur of daily routines, and last month’s vacation seems like an ever-distant memory. As the dog days of summer come to a close and we prepare for the start of an entirely different season, preparations are being made to organize jubilant celebrations all across the country this Labor Day weekend in the spirit of soaking up summer’s last few days of carefree enjoyment and playful indulgence. Such will be the atmosphere in Hamtramck this weekend for the 35th annual Hamtramck Labor Day Festival, which is located right in the center of town on the Main Street of Joseph Campau. The festivities begin on Saturday, August 30 and continue until Monday, September 1 at 10pm. So, instead of spending your last days of August in a haze of summertime sadness that involves binge watching Netflix, eating slices of cold pizza, and wiping the grease on your already Dorito stained pajamas (It’s okay; we’ve all been there.), get up, get out, and support the local Hamtramck community by participating in the Labor Day Festival. Unless you have a vendetta against delicious food and cheap beer, the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival is guaranteed to bring you a satisfied belly, an abundance of laughs, and a swelling sense of pride for the Metro-Detroit area.

The city of Hamtramck and its residing citizens have remained resilient over the years as the city continues to make triumphant strides forward in the wake of darker times, including industrial fallouts, financial meltdowns, and corrupt politics that have created an uncertain, unstable gaze for the city’s future. In 1980, when Hamtramck experienced its most dire of circumstances, however, it was the initial launch of the Hamtramck City Festival that bolstered the community’s spirits and offered the first promising gleam of hope for the days of struggle that lay ahead. Today, what began as the Hamtramck City Festival is now known as Hamtramck’s Labor Day celebration. And while a few aspects of the festival have changed over the decades, the event’s core purpose remains the same. The Hamtramck Labor Day Festival aims to bring people of all ages, backgrounds, colors, and sizes together to celebrate cultural diversity and experience the unique, rich history of a city that will not allow itself to be swallowed up and forgotten by the changing times and unrelenting storms, all while supplying an abundance of local food, artwork, and music for the senses to breathe in and enjoy.

This year’s Hamtramck Labor Day Festival promises to be smorgasbord of events that offers entertainment for everyone from the star athlete to the aspiring artist. For those who are looking to stretch their muscles and get their blood moving before that start of another work week, there’s the 3.1 mile Golab-K run/walk, which is held early on Labor Day. In addition, if you are looking to exercise your competitive side, there’s the return of the annual Hamtramck Yacht Race to look forward to. If you’ve never experienced Hamtramck’s beloved Yacht Races before, here’s a little tip: you don’t have to own an actual yacht to participate. The “yachts” are actually push carts that race down Joseph Campau, and even audience members get to join in the exciting hullabaloo by throwing water balloons and shooting squirt guns at the finish line. And of course, it would not be the Labor Day Festival in Hamtramck without one of the celebration’s main attractions, the Polish Day Parade, which is being held on Labor Day at 1:30pm and features dance troupes as well as politicians.

If you are more interested the artist scene than the overtly festive aspects of the event, however, your amusement will be satisfied while perusing the art fair, which features a slew of Metro Detroit crafters, and letting loose at the music stages. Some of this year’s big musical performances will include The Detroit Cobras, Melvin Davis, Kielbasa Kings, and Phantasmagoria, but you’ll definitely want to check out all of the talented, local musicians who will be providing entertainment for the festival. Don’t forget that the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival is kid-friendly too. The young ones will use up all of their energy as they jump from ride to ride and experience all of the fun, interactive games that Big Rock Amusements provides for the event. And finally, if nothing else, the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival is worth attending just for the food alone. Hamtramck’s best local restaurants will be working hard this weekend to provide festival goers with the freshest, most appetizing food they have to offer (which is nothing short of mouth-watering). Indeed, when you attend the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival, you will not leave hungry, but you will leave happy.

Joining the crowds to take part in the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival is about more than squeezing in one final hoorah for the summer, although, it is a perk. Of course, it’s always better to end the summer on a memorable high note- a souvenir memory to pull out during the brutal Michigan winters- but attending Hamtramck’s festival this weekend extends further than one’s personal motives for doing so. Rather, choosing to take part in Hamtramck’s Labor Day Festival is about celebrating the union of strangers within an unbroken community that brings them all together and teaches the true value of never giving up.

--Emily Clancy