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Cloquet to host 91st Annual Labor Day Celebration

Cloquet will continue its rich Labor Day tradition this weekend as community supporters host the 91st Annual Labor Day Celebration Sunday, Sept. 5, and Monday, Sept. 6.

This year's celebration will mark the reincarnation of the popular "Old Timers Banquet" which was discontinued in 2006. According to co-organizer Mike Kuitu, this year's banquet will be held at the Cloquet Area Recreational Center, 1102 Olympic Dr., on Sunday, Sept. 5, beginning at noon. A free meal will be provided for people 62 years or older who have lived in Carlton County for 50 years or more, though it will be limited to the first 185 seniors who arrive. Doors will open at 11 a.m., and prizes will be awarded to the oldest man, the oldest woman, the couple who has been married the longest, and the person with the oldest Cloquet or Carlton County Labor Day


Dinner for the banquet will be prepared by Jim 'n Jo's Katering, and music will be provided by Lorren Lindevig. Special guest will be Congressman Jim Oberstar, who will speak briefly about senior issues.

Labor Day events on Monday, Sept. 6, will include the Cloquet Labor Day Car Show, beginning at 10 a.m. and running through 3 p.m. Sponsored by the Nifty Fifties Car Club, the classic car show will take place on Avenue C between 12th and 14th streets and along 13th Street between Cloquet Avenue and Avenue B. The event has traditionally brought in as many as 75 classic cars from as far away as International Falls and the Twin Cities. A highlight of the show is the presentation of the Bob Oswold Memorial Trophy, given in honor of the long-time leader of the Labor Day Celebration.

The big Labor Day parade will get under way at 11 a.m. and follow the usual route along Cloquet Avenue, beginning at 18th Street and concluding at Eighth Street.

One of the longest-running Labor Day parades in the nation, the local event will feature two bagpipe bands and the Cloquet Community Band as well as other musicians, floats, local dignitaries and statewide politicians, and area community and labor organizations.

Special guest on the Central Labor Body's float this year will be Shar Knutson, the first female president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO.

Parade lineup begins at 9 a.m. along Avenue B.

Another highlight of the day will be the traditional Labor Day Picnic in the upstairs hall above the Cloquet Labor Temple, 1403 Avenue C, Cloquet. The event is free and open to the public, and doors will open immediately following the parade. Serving will continue until 2 p.m.

Back for a second year will be the Labor Day Carnival in Veterans Park, featuring special inflatable amusement rides to provide free entertainment for youngsters. Rides open at 12:30 p.m. and continue until 5:30 p.m. Non-profit organizations who wish to do fundraising or sponsor other activities are also welcome to share the carnival grounds with prior approval.

Labor Day buttons to help defray some of the costs of putting on the annual Labor Day Celebration will be available for a minimum donation of $1.

The Labor Day event has traditionally been hosted directly through the local Central Labor Body, but Kuitu explained that due to mandated restructuring of the AFL-CIO at the local level, the Carlton County Central Labor Body AFL-CIO could no longer legally hold onto any finances. Instead, he related, the Labor Day Fund was instead turned into a legal non-profit.

Cloquet's Labor Day Celebration has not been without the same economic challenges of the rest of the area in recent years, and yet Kuitu said a faithful following of supporters has helped keep the celebration afloat.

"The Carlton County Labor Day Celebration wishes to thank the many generous community-minded businesses and area labor organizations for the monetary donations to the Labor Day celebration," said Kuitu. "Without their ongoing support and the tireless solicitation of our donations chairperson Mike Berthiaume, the Labor Day Celebration could not continue."

For more information about any of the Labor Day events, contact Kuitu at 218-391-6367 or e-mail him at