Hamtramck plays on Labor (free) Day

Touting it a “labor free Labor Day,” the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival featured carnival rides, canoe races, beer tents and an artist village, a three-decade plus tradition in the city.

Karl Kaiser and Amy Memminger with the "Whiskey in a Jar" canoe race down Jos. Campau, Monday Sept. 5, 2016, during the Hamtramck Yacht Club Canoe Races part of the Hamtramck Labor Day Fest, in downtown Hamtramck. (Steve Perez/ The Detroit News)

Monday was the final day of the three-day festival, now in its 37th year.

The Labor Day Festival is steeped in history and springs from the city’s woes. “It was the worst of times” when the event was first proposed in 1980, organizers say on their festival website. The city was in its worst crisis: the Dodge Main factory had closed, leaving thousands jobless and eliminating millions of dollars of revenue.

A festival was conceived “not only to boost the spirits of the residents, but also show everyone else that Hamtramck was a tough town that could smile in the face of a crisis.”

Now, participants dash through the streets in carts tossing water balloons at each other, race canoes along Jos. Campau and watch a Polish Day Parade in which the Hamtramck High School band performs.

The Detroit News