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Labour Day Festival: Where you can celebrate workers' rights and have fun, too

Unions sponsor free annual festival in Bell Park
The annual Labour Day Festival takes place in Bell Park Monday, Sept. 5. This is a scene from last year's event. File photo.

Given its blue collar roots, Labour Day Monday has always been a big deal in Greater Sudbury.

In the past, unions held a march in the city's downtown and families gathered for a picnic at the Mine Mill campground.

But with the popularity of some of these traditions waning, local unions banded together in 2012 to put on a big family friendly Labour Day bash in Bell Park.

The festival has proven to be wildly popular, attracting up to 10,000 people per year, depending on the weather.

This year, the Labour Day Festival runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 5 in Bell Park, near the amphitheatre. The event starts with a proclamation and speeches, a march and then a day filled with fun.

Organizers promise live music, kids activities and prize giveaways. And the best part — it's all free of charge thanks to the sponsorship of about a dozen local unions.

“I think it's an excellent day for families,” said Paul Pasanen, who organizes the event on behalf of the Sudbury and District Labour Council. “It's going to be fun.”

There is one change people should be aware of, and it involves food. For the first few years of the festival, there was a free barbecue. Last year, a nominal fee was charged for the barbecue to cut down on waste.

This year, organizers have dispensed with the barbecue entirely, instead inviting in several local food vendors. Families are also welcome to bring their own food, and picnic tables will be set up on site.

Pasanen said it's important to mark Labour Day to celebrate the hard-fought labour rights Canadians have. In many parts of the world, people work in very poor conditions for low pay.

“As far as the tide of workers' rights in the world, we in Canada are a small drop in the bucket,” Pasanen said. “If we don't maintain that, we will be just like the rest of the world.”

Learn more on the festival's Facebook site.


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Heidi Ulrichsen

About the Author: Heidi Ulrichsen

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