Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Labor Day Fest Seeped in Politics ; Speeches, Signs Aplenty

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Labor Day Fest Seeped in Politics ; Speeches, Signs Aplenty

Article excerpt

PETERSBURG, Ind. - The 126th annual Labor Day Celebration is intended by its labor union organizers to be a family-friendly, four-day festival of fun and entertainment. But the sprawling celebration at the Pike County 4-H Fairgrounds also is, unmistakably in this election year, a political event.

Candidates' and unions' signs appear throughout Hornady Park at the fairgrounds, including at the entrance and leading up to it. Teenage girls who appeared in Friday night's Queen Pageant reported being asked to wear pro-union T-shirts bearing exhortations to register and vote throughout the Labor Day Celebration.

This morning, weather permitting, Labor Day Association union organizers will stage a large outdoor political rally in the fairgrounds arena with expected attendance in the thousands. The event, which will be emceed by former Democratic House Minority Leader Russ Stilwell, will feature remarks by the party's gubernatorial, U.S. Senate and 8th District U.S. House candidates - - John Gregg, Joe Donnelly and Dave Crooks, respectively.

The rally is expected to begin at roughly 11 a.m.

It will last about 30 minutes. "It will be a quick-hitter. When everybody comes in off the (9 a.m.) parade route, they're going to come into the grounds. They'll fill this place up," Labor Day Association President Charlie Wyatt said at the arena site Saturday.

Wyatt said he expects thousands of people standing and sitting in bleachers in the arena, which also has hosted mud volleyball, tractor pull and demolition derby events during the Labor Day Celebration.

But Gregg, Donnelly, Crooks and Stilwell won't be the only politicians who will get exposure to a decidedly pro-labor crowd. The arena is encircled by large walls bearing more than 200 signs touting candidates of both parties and extending greetings from current and former officeholders, union locals and area companies.

"Jonathan Weinzapfel Salutes Indiana's Workers," declares one sign from the former Democratic mayor of Evansville. Former 8th District Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth has a sign, as does former Vanderburgh County Commissioner Troy Tornatta, also a Democrat. …

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