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Hoisington carries on a re-imagined Labor Day tradition
Hoisington Main Street
Main Street in Hoisington will look a lot different over Labor Day, with the 124th Labor Day Parade drastically altered for this year’s celebration. Some events are canceled, but the celebration continues.

The first Labor Day celebration in Hoisington consisted of a small parade and a picnic, notes Hoisington Chamber of Commerce Director Karen Baldyga.

Though the 124th edition of the celebration, running from Sept. 4-7 this year, may look a lot different than most are used to, Baldyga is excited to carry on a tradition at the heart of the Hoisington community.

Baldyga said change is a constant for the event which has evolved a lot over nearly a century and a quarter. Still, she acknowledged the drastic changes made this year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic were difficult for everyone, and brought a lot of tears in the course of the decision-making process.

In the end, she said, the decision to move forward was about the community facing the adversity together.

“We came together as a group to do what we thought was the best solution for our community,” she said. “As a community, Hoisington comes together and supports one another.”

Even though the virus had eliminated some events, she said the chamber and its members felt it was important to carry on the Labor Day tradition, even if it was scaled back. Doing so took some creative thinking. 

“We’ve had to think outside the box,” she said. “We’ve been very fortunate there were many fairs and events that happened before us this summer. We’re able to look at what worked for them and what didn’t work for them.”

Old events get a new look

One weekend staple, the annual Labor Day Parade, will move forward in reverse this year.

Instead of spectators lining the street while entries work their way down Main Street, it will be the spectators who travel the streets of Hoisington viewing the stationary entries in what Baldyga called a “Reverse Parade.”

The chamber is asking Hoisington businesses, nonprofits, individuals and families to create stationary floats and displays in front of their home or business from 10 a.m. to noon Monday, Sept. 7, when the parade would normally take place. Entries can use either their own theme, or stick with Hoisington’s Labor Day theme for this year, “2020: Envisioning our Future.”

“It gives people an opportunity that have never been able to participate in the parade with a float to actually have an at home float,” she said. 

Decorations and floats will be judged in three categories: business, nonprofit, and individual/family with one winner being awarded from each of the three categories. Wednesday, Sept. 2 will be the last date entries will be accepted for judging for this contest.

While they will not be judged, emergency management vehicles, classic vehicles or unique vehicles are encouraged to be displayed as well.

The Community Barbecue, normally held Friday night with a beer garden in connection with the home high school football game, will also have a new look this year.

This year, the event will be moved to Saturday night, and will be a “Drive-Thru BBQ.” The meal, consisting of pulled pork sandwich and sides, will be $10 and must be ordered by Wednesday. The meals will then be served via curbside pickup in the parking lot behind Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 1101 N. Vine, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday.

“You’re just going to drive up, grab your meal and go home and enjoy it at home,” she said.

New events for this year

With the KIDSTOP, or Touch-a-Truck event being canceled this year, the chamber created a Kids’ Scavenger Hunt to replace it, going from 9-11 a.m. Saturday.

Parents will bring their kids to meet clowns at the parking lot behind Emmanuel Lutheran Church, where the kids will receive a list of items to hunt for around town. Once all items have been located, kids will return to the church, and all children to complete the list will receive a goodie bag. The event is by freewill donation.

Because the chamber expects Hoisington businesses to be hit hard with the scaled back festivities this year, two other new events were added this year to encourage individuals to visit those local businesses.

The first is a Poker Run, which will take place from 1-4 p.m. Saturday. 

Start and finish will once again be the parking lot behind Emmanuel Lutheran Church, with stops at five Hoisington businesses. At each business, participants will pick up one card, with an option to purchase another, amassing up to a possible nine cards. The best five cards will make up the participant’s hand. The top three hands will each be awarded prizes donated from Hoisington chamber businesses.

To encourage interaction with each business, Baldyga said participants, “will have to use some form of skill in order to retrieve their card.”

Participants can pre-register until Thursday, but will also be able to register on-site at the event Saturday afternoon.

The other new event this year will be Labor Day Bingo, which will run from Thursday through Sunday. 

Participants will pick up a bingo card at one of several participating Hoisington businesses, and earn a stamp by shopping at each of those participating businesses. Once participants have competed a bingo, they will put their names at the top, place it in a sealed bag, and drop it off at the Hoisington Dairy Queen, which will have a drop box.

The Hoisington Chamber will draw ten winners Tuesday, who will each receive $10 in Hoisington “Chamberbucks.”

Anyone wanting information on registration for any of this year’s events can call the office at 620-653-4311 or visit the Hoisington Chamber’s website at

Some events canceled, but hope remains

Several events, however, did not make the cut in the pandemic environment.

Several staple events, including the carnival, the Sunday night street dance, and the demolition derby, were all canceled for this year’s event. Baldyga said these were some of the most difficult decisions to make.

One of the hardest to cancel, she said, was the demolition derby.

“These individuals work all year long, and pour their heart, and soul, and money into these vehicles,” Baldyga said. “Our hearts go out to those individuals, because we know how hard they worked.”

It was also hard to see the street dance not take place she said, because of the way the traditional Sunday night event brings the community together. Historically, she said, the street dance has been a meeting place for individuals who have been out of town for years, and are returning specifically for the Labor Day celebration and class reunions.

She is hopeful the event can return to a more traditional format, as they look forward to their 125th year in 2021, but said whatever happens, the event is still an opportunity to bring the community together.

“If we can hold on, and continue to move forward and realize we’re not alone in this, we’re going to be okay, and we’re going to get through,” she said.