Years ago, the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival was everything Polish – Polish dancers, polkas, Polish food – but over the years, Hamtramck’s Polish community has either moved to points north in Macomb County or has died off. However, this small hamlet in the middle of Detroit has held onto its working class roots and the annual festival continues its metamorphosis and has informally dubbed itself the Blue Collar Bash.
Some traditions remain like the Polish Day Parade and the yacht race down Jos. Campau on Monday, Sept. 3. Well, not actual yachts, but more like canoes on wheels. And in the absence of any natural water source in Hamtramck, count on the crowds to cheer the racers on with water balloons, squirt guns and anything else that will spray or splash the wet stuff.
You don’t have to be Polish to enjoy a good kielbasa, and hometown sausage maker and meat market Srodek’s makes a damn fine kielbasa. It will be hosting the festival’s first kielbasa eating contest on Labor Day.
There will be plenty of dancing in the street, but don’t look for polkas. This year’s musical lineup include hometown rockers such as The Detroit Cobras, Melvin Davis, The Sights,Phantasmagroia, George Morris, The Sugarcoats, Dennis Coffey, Polish Muslims, Infinity People, Invincible, Mick Bassett, Pewter Cub, Kielbasa Kings, and more.
And like the other big music, art and food festival up the road, there will be plenty of food and artists showing and selling their wares, too. And unlike other festivals around town, the Hamtown fest is boasting $4 beers, and parking is free and plenty. Don’t want to park and drive? Take a bus from Ferndale or Royal Oak or come on your bike and park it at the Wheelhouse.
For more information on the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival, visit the website