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Weekend’s LaborFest has something for all

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Catherine W. Idzerda
September 3, 2010
— Janet Cook has never seen the LaborFest Parade.

For the past 20 years, Cook has volunteered to help at LaborFest, and most recently she’s been the parade coordinator.


This year she won’t see it, either, because the LaborFest committee has picked her to be parade marshal.


The parade, which starts at 1 p.m. Monday, is one part of the three-day event featuring mud volleyball, kids’ activities, live music, a car show and raffle.


Most of the events will be at the grounds at the UAW Hall at 1795 Lafayette St., Janesville.


This year’s theme is “20 years of giving back to the community,” said Ronnie Thomas, longtime LaborFest volunteer.


Thomas and his wife, Delores, were named the Goodwill Ambassadors, so you’ll see them at the head of the parade, too.


“The parade gets bigger every year,” Cook said. “We have 122 units right now.”


New entries this year include Miss Beloit and a float from the Southern Wisconsin Paranormal Research Group.


What kind of entry will the research group have?


“We don’t know. We’ll just have to wait and see,” Cook said.


Other new entries include Skelly’s Farm Market with a parade of red Radio Flyer wagons and a group promoting “Housing for Our Vets.”


Despite changes in the local economy, LaborFest and the parade continue unabated.


“Our volunteer base has dropped some because people have taken jobs elsewhere,” Cook said. “But we’re reached out to the rest of the community.”


Cook and Thomas stressed that LaborFest is a celebration for all working people.


“This is not a GM event; this is not a UAW event,” Cook said. “There were seven or eight different unions that got together to start this.”


With the recession, however, work for “working people” will be on everyone’s minds.


At 5 p.m. Sunday, the Machinists Union, the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, UAW Local 95 and the Rock County Labor Council will sponsor a “Jobs Now” rally on LaborFest grounds.


Speakers for the event will include Sen. Russ Feingold, State Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan and Milwaukee mayor and gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett. A variety of union leaders also will be present.


LABOR FEST

When: Saturday through Monday


Where: 1795 Lafayette Street, Janesville


Cost: Free


Saturday


Noon-6 p.m.: Teen mud volleyball and DJ, rock climbing wall, games, petting zoo, pony rides and clowns.


1-5 p.m.: The Bell Cats band, beer garden stage.


3 p.m.: Stylez Unknown, break dancing performance.


7- 11 p.m.: The Dweebs, main stage band.


Sunday


All day: Co-ed mud volleyball


10 a.m.-6 p.m.: Games for kids, rock climbing wall, petting zoo, pony rides and clowns.


11 a.m.-3 p.m.: Illinois raptor rehab and education with live birds.


1-5 p.m.: Chicago’s Elvis & Dolly impersonators, beer garden stage


2-3 p.m.: Snakes alive, live reptile exhibit.


2-4 p.m.: Fire engine display


3 p.m.: Karate America demonstration


4 p.m.: Stylez Unknown, break dancing performance.


7-11 p.m.: Little Vito & the Torpedoes, main stage.


Monday


10 a.m.: Car display


Noon-4 p.m.: Roger Crary performing in beer garden.


1 p.m.: Labor Day parade, downtown Janesville.


1-6 p.m.: Pony rides, petting zoo, games.


3 p.m.: Pickett’s Circus Wagon


3 p.m.: Stylez Unknown, break dancing performance.


4-8 p.m.: The Jamie Campbell Band, main stage.



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