Organized Labor’s annual Labor Day picnic is Positively Fort Wayne

Local News

Months of meeting, planning and preparation go into producing Organized Labor’s annual Labor Day Family Picnic. Union members from about 30 area unions work together like a well oiled assembly line to make sure all the elements are in place.

“There’s a lot of time and effort that goes into this picnic,” said Dave Altman with the Indiana Joint Board Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union Council. “We make over 100 gallons of chili. We serve 7,000 plus people and that means we serve more than 7,000 hot dogs all for free to anyone who comes.”

Altman has served up hot dogs and chili for about 25 years. The last 10 years the picnic has been held at Headwaters Park. “Headwaters has been our venue for the last 10 years. It’s a good spot,” said Altman. “All the labor unions in the area step up and they come in and volunteer.”

It cost approximately $18,000 to put on the picnic and that includes food, some of which has not been donated. All of the labor for the picnic, from the planning committee meetings held since March to pre Labor Day set up and the actual picnic day work, is all donated by union members who volunteer more than just their time.

“We’ve got unionized employers who’ve donated product,” said Altman. “Holsum Bakery here in Fort Wayne donated 7,000 buns to this picnic. Prairie Farms Dairy donated milk and juice and all kinds of dairy products and Coca-Cola also donated products.” 

“This is just seeding back to the community,” said event co-chair and Sheet Metal Workers Union 20 member Darryl Esterline. “You don’t have to be a member of the union to come out to Headwaters Park on Labor Day to celebrate Labor Day. Through all the collective donations from all the unions in town this is our gift back to the community.”

“It’s got to be one of the biggest Labor Day events in the state and everything is free,” said Altman. The Organized Labor free Labor Day Family Picnic is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday September 3 at Headwaters Park. The menu includes hot dogs, chili, ethnic foods, chips, pop, water and beer. The splash pad will be open and there will also be activities like rides, bingo and face-painting. It is open to the public free of charge. This is the 36th year for the event.

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