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Ontonagon readies for Labor Day festival

August 30, 2012
By STACEY KUKKONEN - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

ONTONAGON - Ontonagon's largest celebration kicks off today and will continue through the weekend featuring the antiques appraisal popular from last year.

The Ontonagon Labor Day Festival opens this evening with the Ontonagon Christian Center Concert at 6 p.m., said Jan Tucker, co-chair of the festival. Events continue through Monday. Tucker is co-chair with Bill Chabot.

"The festival is 55 years old," she said. "It's a tremendous tradition."

Article Photos

Stacey Kukkonen/Daily Mining Gazette
The Ontonagon Labor Day Festival draws thousands of participants every year as seen in this 2011 photo. The biggest festival of the year in Ontonagon, the Labor Day Festival will be held this weekend in Ontonagon.

The festival will bring back a series of favorite events in a celebration of Ontonagon. From 5 to 6 p.m. Friday, the community picnic will take place at the Ontonagon Marina and will offer free pop, hot dogs and chips. Sponsored by the village of Ontonagon, the event is free and open to the public. If weather permits, there will be an Aspirus helicopter exhibit and SONCO ambulance tour.

"Free food is always a big draw," she said.

Following at 6 p.m. is the rock-skipping championship at the marina launch site, where registrants can try their hand at skipping rocks along the lake. Friday rounds out at the Village Recreation Center with music by Borderline with Mike Urbis from 9 p.m. to midnight, Tucker said. The cost is $3 per person or $5 for two, with food provided by Ontonagon County Animal Protection.

"Mike Urbis is really popular Friday night," she said.

Events begin at 8 a.m. Saturday with registration for the Laborfest Auto Show, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and trophies and prizes will be awarded later in the day.

Also at 9, the Maxwell Street Day event will begin, where street sales will take place on River Street right downtown. In addition, the Ontonagon Historical Museum will have an open house all day and lighthouse tours. Tucker said from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. there will be a book signing by author Dan Chabot and the Aspirus Fitness Center will have an open house and extended hours with food and prizes from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

"Aspirus is going to have a real expanded role this year in the celebration," she said. "They will be giving away day passes and will be taking blood pressures. And they'll be very visible at the picnic."

For one day only, on Saturday, the Auction Block Appraisal will be held at the Gogebic Ontonagon Community Action Building on the corner of River and Spar streets. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., anyone is welcome to bring their family treasures to be appraised at no charge, however, each individual is only allowed three items max.

"After just one year, we're bringing back the appraisals," Tucker said. "It was jammed last year. It was fantastic. It has a lot of appeal."

Tucker said last year, someone brought a vase to be appraised for which she paid only a few dollars at a rummage sale. Curious to see what it was worth, that individual was told it was worth about $5,000.

"These people don't buy anything," Tucker said. "They're not purchasing anything. So when they give an appraisal, it's an honest one."

Tucker said most of the time, people end up bringing things that don't have much value but have a different kind of value because it's been a part of the family.

"Everything has value," she said. "It's precious to you and they're very sensitive about that."

In the afternoon, the long-standing lip-sync contest tradition will begin at 1 on the corner of Houghton and River streets. Categories include preschool, elementary, high school and adult contestants who will be lip-syncing for cash prizes, Tucker said.

Later in the afternoon, at 4 p.m., the Rotary River Log Race and prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers. Proceeds will be donated to SONCO. Ending the evening, the Adventure Mountain Stock Car Races will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Greenland with hot laps followed by the actual race.

Sunday begins with a pancake breakfast from 7:30 to 11 a.m. at the Holy Family Catholic Church. The event is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.

From 8 to 9:45 a.m., registration for the Aspirus Ed Hansen 5K and 10K race will take place at the Ontonagon Fire Hall. The run follows shortly after at 10 a.m. and ends with an awards ceremony also at the Ontonagon Fire Hall and sponsored by Aspirus Ontonagon Hospital.

"Aspirus is really involved in our largest celebration," she said.

Popular every year is the Labor Day Festival parade, Tucker said, as participants put a lot of effort toward float construction. Float assembly begins at noon and judging will be in the former elementary school field. The parade will take place at 2 p.m. and will feature Marty's Goldenaires, Superior Pipes and Drums and A.D. Johnston High School and Ontonagon Area High School bands.

"The parade is always the biggest highlight," Tucker said. "It's the homemade floats in the parade that usually draw people."

The parade marshal this year is the OK Team of Ontonagon, which consists of young people under the umbrella of the Ontonagon County Partnership. The team, under the direction of Judge Janis Burgess, provides different services throughout the community.

"They help paint places that need paint," Tucker said.

The group is instrumental to the community and helped clean up after last year's Labor Day Festival parade.

"That's why we named them the parade marshal," she said.

Prize money of $1,500 will be awarded for floats in open, youth and commercial divisions and a concert after the parade will feature Marty's Goldenaires and Superior Pipes and Drums.

From 4 to 10 p.m., Communityfest will be held at the Village Recreation Center. For 50 cents admission, anyone is welcome to come and enjoy music, food, beverages and a silent auction, Tucker said. There will be a 50/50 drawing at 8.

Monday's events begin in the afternoon, at 12:30, with the kids' parade assembly at Syl's Caf for judging. The actual parade, Hank Thompson Memorial Kiddies Parade on River Street, will follow at 1 with prizes for every child, including special prizes for bicycles, walking, large and small pulling entries.

Kids' games will follow and the event is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.



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