Monthly Archives: August 2014

Alternative Labor Day Activities

Here in Pleasantville we celebrate the great achievements of labor with a 4-5 day festival. And just as the modern labor movement has faded from its once proud place in America, the local festival has lost some of its luster.
Attendance at the festival is always a record, and there is supposedly a waiting list for booth space for vendors wanting to sell hand crafted, NCAA licensed bath decor and designer sunglasses.
In exchange for the 100s of thousands of people visiting our little hamlet of around 10,000 residents most of the civic, youth, religious and school groups raise most of their annual operating funds. Parking cars, selling food items and holding different events with entry fees are just a few of the ways the groups raise the funds to operate.
While all these groups bemoan the amount of hours required and the difficulty in getting members to work, they also like that “outsiders” or visitors are who the bulk of the money comes from.
Private businesses have mixed results with the festival. Some claim an increase in business with the crowds and just as many claim that for them it is detrimental. There is no debate that vehicle traffic that weekend makes it tough to travel to some of the places in town.
The locals seem to either love the festival or despise it.
The festival has evolved to the point that it requires every inch and more available in the park. To the point that any improvement or rearranging of the facilities done at the park the first question is “How will this affect the festival”. It also requires exclusive use of the park for over a week for set-up and clean-up. In exchange for this year round priority and exclusive use the festival is contracted to pay the park about $30,000.
There is some history behind this contract, the festival used to donate items to the park in exchange for its use but there came a point when the money would be of a lot more use to the park and a yearly lease would make it easy to budget. Now fast forward several years, park managers, festival organizers, successful festivals and marginal festivals. This contract has become a thorn in the side of all parties involved.
The festival has quietly shouted that they are considering moving the festival to another community. Several of the more vocal members of the festival board used this leverage to question how the local school system was spending money on joint projects with the city for facilities in the park system.
My first thought was does this public lobbying put their 501c3 status in question as a charitable organization. This type of behavior falls under a political action committee and the tax laws are different for those two types of organizations.
The second thing I did was vow to spend as little time and money at the festival as possible. Finding alternatives to the festival was easy and enjoyable. Monterey, Indiana has a festival, the US Nationals are in Indy, the Original Root Beer stand closes for the season offering outstanding deals, College football opened the season, all of these items are good alternatives.
You hear so much during other holidays “remember the reason”, either honoring our veterans, use the word Christmas instead of Holiday.
I decided to “remember the reason” and quietly celebrated the advancements that labor has made in our society. 40 hour work week, child labor restrictions, safety advancements all items that we take for granted today but were hard-fought with real blood and lives. I know that this is not a popular sentiment in this community, and I don’t think it is a coincidence that it is referred to as the Blueberry Weekend here.
Next year when the festival is enjoying record crowds in a new community, I will be here in Pleasantville wishing everyone a happy Labor Day!