Fort Wayne’s annual Labor Day Picnic is again expected to draw thousands downtown to celebrate working people and enjoy free hot dogs, chili, chips and beer.

The picnic starts at 11 a.m. and wraps up at 3 p.m. at Headwaters Park at 333 South Clinton Street.

Herb Anderson, Board Member for the Labor Day Picnic Committee, has been associated with the event since the 1980s. “It started as a picnic for organized labor, but we decided we ought to share it with the community.”

“We invite the whole community to come down and join us and celebrate Labor and what they do for this country.”

Labor Day Picnic Board member Herb Anderson(left) has been part of the picnic since the 1980s.

Fellow board Member, Roxanna Murray, who calls BINGO every year, says the energy is contagious. “For people who come the first time, it’s only the first time once. They keep coming back year after year.”

“It’s truly a fun day,” says Anderson. “You run into people you haven’t seen in a while.”

“We’ll have six-to-ten-thousand people there that day,” says Murray. “And everyone is welcome!”

Labor Day Picnic board member Roxanna Murray calls BINGO every year.

The Labor Day Picnic Committee has been meeting monthly since January to plan for an event of this magnitude. “We raise money to buy all the hot dogs and chili products,” says Anderson. “Then we come down and cook the food for the community.”

How exactly do you cook chili for thousands of people? “Huge pots,” says Murray as she smiles and spreads her arms wide. “They start very early in the morning getting it ready.”

“Every year we increase the amount we make, but it’s a challenge to make sure we have enough chili for everyone.”

Huge pots are used to make chili for thousands of hungry picnic goers.

Murray says it’s a group effort. “Everybody is contributing,” she says. “Building trades, sheet metal workers, firefighters, police officers, all different kinds of labor get involved. We’ll even have the Philharmonic here to entertain!”

It all comes together for an event perfect for families or anyone looking to enjoy some good company on Labor Day. “There are children running around having a good time,” says Anderson. “Just socializing and enjoying the great environment.”

Thousands of hot dogs are grilled each year.

For anyone who hasn’t checked out the picnic, Murray encourages all to give it a try. “Come on down to Headwaters Park and join us. We’ve got a little bit of everything going on. Have some free hot dogs and chili. Grab a beer, or water. We’ve got bounce houses and activities for the kids.”

“It’s a great place to socialize and learn about the community, and just have a good time!”

Thousands attend Fort Wayne’s Labor Day Picnic each year.

It’s easy to see why the annual Labor Day Picnic is POSITIVELY FORT WAYNE.