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Monday, August 15, 2016

Labor-less Festivals Await

It’s hard to imagine not liking a holiday, not wanting it to happen, but there is one American holiday that, traditionally, thousands hated and thousands more looked forward to. Yup, Labor Day. It used to be known as the traditional end of summer, traditions also dictated that school started immediately afterward, and summer frocks were put away.

"Please, Mama, I don't wanna go," was the cry of thousands of kids. "But I look good in white," was the plea of thousands of tanned young ladies. "Oh what a relief," was the moan of many mamas, and "It's back to dark woolies for you, little miss," was the cry of fashion mavens.

The federal government recognizes six big holidays and Labor Day is close to being or is the oldest. People started celebrating a labor day in 1878 and it became Labor Day, a federal holiday in 1894. The holiday has evolved from giant labor union parades and grand speechifying to festivals promising the best blue grass, the best ribs, the best of Luckenbach.

That’s not a typo el friendo. The tiny Texas town of Luckenbach, the one that Willie sang about, hosts an annual Labor Day Celebration, Texas-Style.

But, here’s one that makes my mouth water, since Patty and I raise goats for their milk, think cheese and ice cream, and their meat, think BBQ. Well, in the little town of Brady, Texas, up in the hill country, they have a World Championship BBQ Goat Cook-off. There are more goat ranchers worldwide than there are cattle ranchers, and goat meat is eaten as a protein staple in more countries than is beef. Don’t knock it until you try it, cuz it is good.

Texas believes in festivals, and Labor Day in Houston is Hot Sauce Festival time, and you’ll find aficionados of every temperature vying for honors. There will be samples of hot sauce, salsa, BBQ sauce, and they tell me, Bloody Mary mix too.

Not to be outdone by Bayou City, Nacogdoches is home to the Do Dat Barbecue Cook-off, which could very well take the top of your head right off.

The left coast is home to many Labor Day festivals, including a three day-er in Hermosa Beach, at the pier. They call it an Art Festival but there will be 270 vendors lined up to tickle your wallet. Looking for all that California Gold. Another big art festival takes place in Sausalito, near San Francisco, and this year will mark the sixty-second annual time it’s been presented. That’s impressive.

There are two major festivals that I would like to attend, and since I live next door to one of them, that will be where you’ll find me, at the Nugget World Championship Rib Festival in Sparks, Nevada. Usually about a hundred rib cookers from around the world participating, and you can smell smoked ribs as far away as Carson City. Patty and I like to go early on Sunday, just as the various contestants are opening their smokers to the public, and before the massive invasion of pork denied visitors descend on Sparks.

You know what they say about Reno? Yup, Reno is so close to hell you can see Sparks.

The big festival we’ll miss is the Choctaw Nation Labor Day Festival in Tuskahoma, Oklahoma. Stickball, Choctaw Princess Pageant, buffalo tours, fancy dancing, drums, concerts, and more dancing.

If none of the above winds your clock, just head out into your great back yard, fire up the BBQ, sing your own songs, dance your own dance, and enjoy this long Labor Day Weekend.

Until next time, read good books and stay regular

Johnny Gunn
Member, Western Fictioneers
Member, International Thriller Writers
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