Labor Day celebrated with community gathering at Morgan’s Grove Park
SHEPHERDSTOWN — The scent of hot dogs and hamburgers being grilled scented the air, during Shepherdstown Community Club’s annual Labor Day celebration at Morgan’s Grove Park on Monday afternoon.
Featuring raffles, a moon bounce, face painting, live music and a potluck, the event encouraged community members to relax and enjoy the holiday with their families and friends.
“We’ve done this since the late ’60s,” said SCC President Mike Austin. “It’s a traditional Labor Day event, which is one of the American holidays.”
According to Austin, the club decided to add the moon bounce and face painting this year, and replace the type of live music featured in previous years — a band — with Shepherd University music student and singer Lucia Valentine, to attract more families to the event.
“We’re trying to become relevant for younger generations and extend the neighborly dimension of our club,” Austin said. “We do this every year to not just be a fundraiser, but to be a part of the community. This is an affordable event where people can get involved.”
Many of the celebration’s attendees have come to the event for as long as they have lived in the area. According to Sue Kennedy, of Shepherdstown, the event allows her to enjoy good food and conversation.
“I’ve lived here 10 years, and I think everybody loves it — their hamburgers are the best,” Kennedy said.
Along with mentioning that the celebration of Labor Day is an important American tradition honoring the working class, Kennedy recalled times in her life when she both dreaded and looked forward to the holiday.
“Growing up, Labor Day meant the next day I would go off to school. As a parent, it meant my kids were going off to school, so I have two different views of it,” Kennedy said with a laugh.
Longtime SCC member Steve Ayraud has also attended the celebration for many years, and said having the food component as part of Labor Day is important, because it has the ability to connect community members together.
“Eating together is part of the community spirit and of the Labor Day celebration,” Ayraud said. “Of course, Labor Day has traditionally been a day of rest and a day to honor people who work for a living and are a part of a union.”
In the last hour of the event, Lucia Valentine performed a set of original songs, accompanied by her father, Dominic Valentine, of Shepherdstown. Dominic said one song in Lucia’s set, “One,” resonated with Labor Day’s history.
“As far as Labor Day goes, it’s a working man’s holiday,” Dominic said, mentioning he is also a member of the nonprofit Young Artists Series, a mentorship and education program affiliated with the Jefferson County Arts Council. “In these times, we need to recognize the hard work all people do, and taking care of each other and of the earth is part of that. ‘One’ talks about treating everyone the way you’d like to be treated, and treating mother earth the same way.”