Annual LaborFest is three-day celebration of family fun

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Shelly Birkelo
Friday, August 23, 2013

JANESVILLE—When LaborFest was established in 1991, the intent was to create a weekend celebration for southern Wisconsin residents to honor labor and celebrate Labor Day close to home.

"We're still here. There's been changes, and it's a lot of work, but we really enjoy doing this, and the end result is always satisfying," said Jeanna Maasz, LaborFest Committee spokeswoman, who also is in charge of the parade.

"Paying it Forward" is this year's festival theme.

"We want to bring awareness about who is in our community and what they do. A lot of people volunteer their time and do great and amazing things," Maasz said.

That's why Brigette and Bruce Thoms, co-founders of the Rock County Cancer Coalition, were picked as the Labor Day parade goodwill ambassadors and Allison Viemeister as parade marshal. The Franklin Middle School teacher has been training service dogs for 15 years for Canine Companions for Independence, an organizations that provides assistance dogs for children and adults with disabilities at no cost, Maasz said.

Highlighting festivities that include a variety of entertainment, children's games, mud volleyball and raffles, is the Labor Day parade. It's touted to be the largest in the Midwest and attracts an average crowd of 60,000, Maasz said.

"We've got something for everybody," she said.

Here are eight things to know about LaborFest 2013:

1.  Mud volleyball. Teams for teens, ages 13 to 17, start competing at noon Saturday, Aug. 31, and co-ed adults start their competitions at 8 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 1. Teams are encouraged to dress up. The best-dressed team wins cash.

2. Music. Whether you like country, 70s and 80s hits or cover bands, you're bound to find music to fit your tastes.

Saturday at noon Bard Enterprises will play music in the mud volleyball tent. Later Saturday, in the beer garden tent you can hear Radio Play perform from 2 to 4 p.m.; Gypsy Holler from 4:30 to 7 p.m. and Jamie Campbell and the Red Neck Romeos from 8 to 11 p.m.

Sunday at 7:30 a.m. Bard Enterprises plays in the mud volleyball tent. Music continues through the day in the beer garden with Bard Enterprises, 8 a.m.; Elvis impersonator Shawn Sharp, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; Frank & Co., 2 to 4 p.m.; Wapa 2li Band, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and Bad Medicine, 7:30 to 11 p.m.

Monday beer garden music will feature Bard Enterprises from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Bullet from 4 to 7 p.m.

3. Car show. Classic, antique and modern cars, owned by southern Wisconsin residents, will be displayed starting at 10 a.m. Monday and can also be seen in the 1 p.m. Labor Day parade.

4. Bike show. Festival goers will get a glimpse of five classes of motorcycles--sport, custom, Harley-Davidson, metric and group that includes Hondas and Triumphs--from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

5. Raffle. Four tickets to the Packers/Chicago Bears game Monday, Nov. 4, is the grand prize. It includes a motor coach bus ride and tailgate party  provided by Z Travel Tours plus $750 cash donated by LaborFest. Nine other prizes will be given and range from a first prize of two tickets to the Dec. 8 Packers versus Atlanta Falcons game plus a coach bus ride by Z Travel Tours and $250 cash to the ninth-place prize of a $100 gift certificate donated by Wisconsin Vision.

Raffle tickets are available in advance Tuesday through Thursday at UAW Local 95 Hall, 1795 Lafayette St., Blackhawk Community Credit Union locations and from the LaborFest committee by calling 608-352-0330. Tickets are $2 each or three for $5. The raffle ticket drawing will take place at 7 p.m. Monday.

6. Craft fair. Three vendors will sell their wares from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

7. Parade. At least 90 entries--ranging from marching bands to clowns, politicians, and horses--have registered to be part of the 1 p.m. Labor Day parade that will last around 2.5 hours. Stilt walkers and the New Glarus Fire Department, a crowd favorite, will be in the parade again this year.

8. Miscellaneous activities. A rock-climbing wall is planned for Saturday and Sunday, and games and clowns are scheduled for all three days. Special appearances include Spirit Equine Horse Rescue, from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday; a raptor rehab and education program of live birds is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday and a fire engine display from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday. A visit by Wisconsin Vest-a-Dog also is planned.

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