Volunteers save Rock Labor Day

ROCK – The Rock Lions Labor Day Festival is once again taking place in Rock on Saturday, Aug. 30, bringing a parade, music, food, games, and a flea market to the community for all ages to enjoy.

The future of the annual event – which has taken place for seven decades – was up in the air earlier this year but community members have joined together to continue the tradition, explained Kathy Stams, secretary of the local Lions Club and parade coordinator.

The club’s declining membership was one of the main factors in considering whether or not the Lions would host the annual festival; funds raised at the event for community purposes have also decreased over the years, said Stams.

“We really don’t want to see it die because it’s a tradition in Rock. It’s really the only thing we do as a community,” she commented.

The Rock Lions Club formed in 1943. Six months later, the organization started the Harvest Festival on Labor Day. Over the years, the name was changed to the Rock Lions Labor Day Festival.

The festival has been the club’s major fundraiser since it organized. Monies raised are used to support community programs and pay for maintenance of the clubhouse property. Stams said the Lions members started looking at the fate of the festival as well as the continuation of the club itself back in February. In addition to the declining and aging membership, the number of active participants has been low.

The club was considering not having the Labor Day Festival. But before the group made a decision on the matter, a letter was sent out to local businesses to post for the public to volunteer to help, said Stams.

“There were sign-up sheets if people wanted Labor Day to happen this year and if they could help,” she explained. People were asked to volunteer their time for an hour or more.

A community meeting followed with three people signing up to help at the parade, she said. The local American Legion and Auxiliary also agreed to help the Lions Club with the festival, said Stams, who is auxiliary president.

“We still need help manning the games,” Stams said. “We can always use help in the food booth or selling the tickets for the food.”

Volunteers are also needed for setting up on Thursday and Friday evenings and cleaning up on Sunday, she said.

For more information about volunteering to help with the festival, call Stams at 359-4835.

Stams is also in charge of pre-registration for the parade. Participants can also register at 10:30 a.m. in front of the firehall before the parade which begins at 11 a.m. on East Maple Ridge Road.

There is no specific theme for the parade this year. Cash prizes will be awarded for winners in various categories.

Following the parade, the midway will be open at the Lions clubhouse on M-35, a couple blocks north of the main intersection in town.

Food and drinks for sale will include pasties, hamburgers, brats, fries, nachos, popsicles, root beer floats, soda, and beer.

There will be games along the midway for all ages and bingo in the clubhouse. Cow pie bingo and a horseshoe tournament are scheduled. Face painting will be offered for the first time this year. A bounce house and flea market/craft sale will be set up on the grounds.

In addition to festival volunteers, people are also being encouraged to join the Rock Lions Club.

“We are always looking for new members. The Lions is the world’s largest non-profit service organization,” Stams noted. Dues are less than $5 a month.

To find out more about the club, contact Stams at 359-4835 or the Rock Lions President Joe Kitiuk at 356-6505. Meetings are held at the clubhouse at 8 p.m. on the first and third Mondays each month.

Recent local projects supported by the Rock Lions include youth baseball, the football team, the school, and fire victims. The group also contributes to the organization’s leader dog and vision programs.

The club’s past projects included a local ski area, utility improvements in the community, organizing Boy Scouts, a milk fund, a dental fund, student loans, highway safety, and a park at Days River.

The clubhouse is also available to the community for meetings, parties, weddings, and other celebrations.

In conjunction with the festival, the Rock Area Senior Citizens will hold a rummage sale from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at the senior center at 3892 West Maple Ridge Road, west of the main intersection in town. Coffee will be served.

Rummage sale donations will be accepted at the center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 1-7 p.m. Tuesday, and after 9 a.m. on Friday. No clothing will be accepted, except shoes. Larger items should be dropped off on Friday.

Call the center at 356-6420 for more information on the rummage sale.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,