If you are still making plans for the upcoming long holiday weekend, you should be considering a visit to the Town of Moriah. This town has been celebrating the Labor Day holiday for over one hundred and twenty years. In fact, the residents of this town began Labor Day celebrations before it became a national holiday in 1894. This symbolic “end of summer” holiday pays tribute to the hard work, achievements, and contributions of American workers. The residents of the Town of Moriah have always been hard workers; miners predominantly, farmers and loggers following close behind.
“As one of the most historic iron mining towns in the country, it makes sense that Labor Day is a big deal here;” said Tim Bryant, President of the Moriah Chamber of Commerce recently.
The spirit of celebrating hard work and achievement prevails throughout the entire town. Block parties, backyard barbecues, and gatherings are everywhere. The town itself hosts an official public celebration within the Village of Port Henry, but I became aware of a small neighborhood Labor Day celebration in Mutton Hollow ( a remote area of Moriah) about five years back. "You've got to see the parade they put on", I was told. Everyone was invited to come to watch and even participate if they so desired. At that time a neighborhood group on a wooded back road had been organizing their own parade for a couple of years. Since it began it has become a prelude to the more"official" celebration the town hosts. I was accurately informed I would not be disappointed.
I remember being completely enthralled with my first Mutton Hollow Parade; grassroots, simplistic, and very "real". The entire parade displayed a great deal of effort, organization and “heart”. There may have been no marching bands, baton twirlers, helium-filled characters, or majorettes, but there was no lack of entertainment. Everyone, from small children to elderly adults had put together some of the most amazing costumes, floats, collections of pets and livestock, farm and garden equipment, motorcycles, old cars and on/off road vehicles imaginable. Their creativity in making a Labor Day celebration statement was beyond expectation. I saw hula skirted youngsters, highly polished garden tractors, goats marching in formation, a 7-foot tall stuffed bear riding in a tractor bucket, and even a costumed piglet, stepping along reluctantly while squealing his head off.
As I watched each parade participant pass by I really didn't know what to expect next. All of this seemed surreal coming toward me amidst a heavily canopied, almost single lane, back road. Occasional music contributed to the ambiance provided by an MP3 player or a highly skilled drummer, horn player or guitarist riding on a flatbed trailer. There were numerous floats and displays, yet I hated to see it end. I've attended every year since and can't wait for this weekend. Rumor has it that this parade will be held Saturday, August 31st at 4:00 PM this year. You may find the details of this well-kept secret on Facebook. To my knowledge, it is not advertised, but that's part of its charm.
In the “downtown”, Moriah Chamber of Commerce has planned the official Town of Moriah/Village of Port Henry Labor Day celebration. This year they plan an old-fashioned, traditional celebration, filled with family fun and festivities with something that should appeal to everyone. The hub of activity will be at the fantastic waterfront; the Port Henry Village Beach. Live bluegrass music will begin at 6:30 PM on Saturday, August 31st followed by fireworks set off from the Port Henry Pier in Powerhouse Park at 8:30 PM. On Saturday, September 1st activities at the beach begin early, at 9:00 AM. There will be a wide variety of family-friendly games for both adults an children including a Tug-o-War, bean guess, horseshoe competition, cardboard boat race, hula hoop contest, and a3 on 3 basketball tournament among other activities. The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, neighbors across the lake, will have a longboat present willing to take visitors out on the lake while guided by a Captain/Interpreter.
Don't miss the annual chicken barbecue serving from 11:00 AM until 12:30 PM also at the beach. Considered one of the best chicken barbecues in the north-country, knowledgeable patrons often arrive early knowing they sell out fast. The official town parade will be held on Main Street Sunday, September 1st, at 1:00 PMand will feature both Butternut Ridge Farm miniature donkeys and the Wadhams Waddlers, a local folk band, among other unconventional twists. .
No matter what your current weekend plans, be sure to include a visit to Moriah. It promises to delight you. Perhaps you will even find your way to Mutton Hollow.