The York Labor Day Festival celebrates a quarter-century Sept. 1, bringing family entertainment to York City and paying tribute to the town's industrial roots.

The daylong event, organized by the York-Adams County Labor Council and York City, will be similar to previous years, with a children's fishing derby running from 8 a.m.-noon and the parade from 10-11 a.m., winding from Small's Field to Kiwanis Lake.

Organizers said the main change this year is entertainment by the lake will not start until 5 p.m., as opposed to around 1 p.m. in previous years.

Planners with York City, who run the evening portion of the festival, decided to cut the early afternoon performances after poor turnout in previous years, said Tom Landis, superintendent of recreation, parks and sanitation.

"It wasn't money well-spent to have entertainment during those four hours and only have five or six people out in the audience," Landis said. "We're still having the same event, all the things that we've had in the past... it's just not getting started until 5o'clock."

Beginning at 5 p.m., there will also be food vendors and entertainment in the park, leading up to a fireworks show at dusk.

"What we're hoping is people will go about their Labor Day doing the things that they traditionally do, and then, as the evening approaches, will come down to the lake for a fun, family, community event," Landis said.


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An important celebration: Publicity chair Alan Vandersloot said the parade is not as large as the ones York hosts for St. Patrick's Day and Halloween, drawing a crowd of about 2,000 people each year, but it is a meaningful holiday to recognize.

Vandersloot said Labor Day is a celebration of freedom and the rise of the middle class.

"York has a pretty rich history. We have a lot of agriculture but we still have a lot of manufacturing, even though it's been hurt in the past decade or two," Vandersloot said. "York County's a pretty strong economy in the state of Pennsylvania; our labor council has been involved in the community for over 50 years now."

Nancy Stough, who coordinates the children's fishing derby, said some organizers are concerned about the festival's future.

"I just hope it continues to be a tradition," Stough said. "A lot of us are older and retired and we do need younger people to be involved."

Schedule: With a children's fishing derby, parade and a firework display, the York Labor Day Festival at Kiwanis Lake will bring a day of family entertainment to York City.

7 a.m.: Registration opens for the children's fishing derby (ages 1-15) at Kiwanis Lake

8-11:30 a.m.: Fishing derby at Kiwanis Lake, bait is provided

10-11:15 a.m.: Parade runs from Small's Field to Kiwanis Lake; $450 in prizes will be given to the judges' favorite groups

Noon: Fishing derby awards ceremony; trophies will be given for biggest fish, smallest fish and most fish

5-8 p.m.: "Critter Caravan" at the Kiwanis Lake secondary stage; children can hold and take photos with reptiles and "friendly critters"

5-6 p.m.: Sabrina Duke performs on Kiwanis Lake main stage with her pop-jazz band, "Acoustical Soul"

6:30-8 p.m.: R.P.M. rhythm and blues band performs on main stage

8 p.m.: National anthem and firework display

— Reach Michael Tabb at mtabb@yorkdispatch.com.