Labor Day. It's celebrated every year. The first Monday in September. We know it's a federal holiday that honors our country's workers. But have you ever wondered how it came about?
The first Labor Day holiday was observed on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City. Records show Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was the first to suggest a day to praise those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold."
Many believe Matthew Maguire, a machinist, proposed the holiday while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the CLU adopted a Labor Day proposal and held a demonstration and a picnic.
By 1894, 30 states adopted the holiday. That same year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.
Eventually, Labor Day celebrations included parades and small festivals - all geared to allow the public to appreciate the work of the trade and labor organizations.
That was then. This is now.
These days, people hold all types of Labor Day celebrations, from fireworks displays and barbecues to sporting events to gigantic weekend sales on everything from clothing to cars. Traditions, too, come into play. Fashionistas put away their white clothes and shoes and cowboys switch from straw to felt hats. The rush of football fills the air. And the Barcalounger takes front and center.
In Vail, a plethora of traditions take place, and the long weekend is an assortment of munchies, music and much more.
To begin, foodies can get their fill at Gourmet on Gore, a three-day open-air food and wine tasting that takes place along Vail's Gore Creek Drive and Bridge Street and showcases local restaurants as well as wines, spirits and beers from around the world.
"We have participated in this event since its inception," said Paul Ferzacca, owner of La Tour in Vail. "It's festive, showcases our local restaurants and, in our case, gives us a chance to have fun with creating something that we don't normally serve at La Tour."
Additionally, a Cadillac Culinary Series will present live demonstrations throughout the open-air tasting from chefs, sommeliers and mixologists.
This year, in addition to the customary tasting, a number of tempting culinary and lifestyle events have been added. At Saturday's Casting and Cuisine, guests take part in a fly-fishing clinic followed by a light breakfast. The Sebastian hosts a cooking class and wine luncheon on Saturday with chef Riley Romanin and on Sunday, Larkspur hosts a five-course Gore Range Harvest Lunch. The Zen in you might enjoy Yoga Yogurt at which a light breakfast will be served. The event benefit Habitat for Humanity.
Then again, if German beer, food and wine is your thing, head over to Beaver Creek for the annual Beaver Creek Oktoberfest, a two-day event that features a traditional beer garden and brats coupled with a uniquely designed beer stein, produced in Germany.
And let's not forget entertainer extraordinaire, Helmut Fricker, whose presence at the fest is a fixture. As the Vail Daily once wrote about Fricker, "Clad in Lederhosen and toting an accordion or alpenhorn, he has entertained visitors at Beaver Creek since the resort opened in 1960, yodeling, cracking jokes, doing magic tricks and unabashedly flirting with women."
The Trachtenkapelle, a band from Beaver Creek's sister city, Lech-Zurs, Austria will also be on hand. There's also Bavarian Costume and European Alpenhorn Contest, which means you might want to get your own Lederhosen out of the mothballs.
On Sunday you can wake up at the 5th Annual Oktoberfest Shuffle, a 5K, 10K or Family K walk, hike or run that benefits the Vail Valley Charitable Fund.
Each day's celebration of the Oktoberfest will culminate with a performance by Bad Medicine, a Bon Jovi tribute band.
And for jazz fans, the 18th annual Vail Jazz Festival, that has taken place throughout the summer, culminates with its Labor Day Vail Jazz Party, a five-day celebration of jazz with more than 30 hours of music (check out the story on B3 to read more).
The event benefits the Vail Jazz Festival Foundation's program, "Jazz Goes to School," a program that takes the basics of jazz to every fourth and fifth grade classroom in Eagle County, exposing a whole new group of kids to the origins and history of jazz and the elements of modern jazz bands. The Vail All- Stars, who will also perform at the festival, are a group of high school scholarship winners from all over the country, who have benefited from intensive instruction through the foundation.
The Vail Rotary Club's annual Rubber Duck Race takes place at the International Bridge in Vail Village on Sunday. Each year, approximately 13,000 ducks are adopted at $5 each - with the plastic quackers vying for a grand prize of $5,000. Other prizes include gift certificates as well as merchandise.
"This is the Rotary Club's primary fundraiser," said Alison Wadey, who represents the club. "We support many international and local projects, including the Salvation Army and Eagle Valley Senior Life. We give dictionaries to each third grade student in Eagle County, along scholarships to students to study abroad.
"Internationally we support various clean water projects, children's health care initiatives to help with health costs and Polio Plus."
And as fun and entertaining, as the duck race can be, please keep in mind that taking a duck home is a no-no. You are only the "owner" of the duck for as long as the race lasts. The duck belongs to daddy. And in this case, daddy is the Rotary Club.
So, this Labor Day, eat, drink, be merry and celebrate the coming of fall or football or, in our case, the arrival of the first snowfall.
And, of course, celebrate a day off from work.