By Sandy Harris for Eugene Daily News
A U.S. federal holiday, Labor Day is observed on the first Monday in September. The day celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers. Oregon was the first state to make Labor Day a holiday in 1887. By the time it became a federal holiday in 1894, 30 other states had already followed in Oregon’s footsteps.
I set out on a mission to find out what Labor Day means to Eugene residents and how they celebrate. I found that for most people, Labor Day means camping trips, barbeques, and gatherings with friends and family. Unlike most other holidays, there are no set traditions that are held any more — such as parades in times past. Labor Day simply means a new season is around the corner — and that school will soon begin.
Labor Day signifies the beginning of the football season. NCAA teams usually play their first game the week prior to Labor Day and the NFL traditionally play their first game the Thursday following Labor Day. But to most, Labor Day simply means a long weekend.
Still wondering what to do for Labor Day around Lane County? Here are a few different ideas to help fill up your holiday weekend:
• Labor Day Weekend on the Territorial Wine Trail, September 1-3. You will enjoy approximately 40 miles of meandering country hillsides, small local shops, and farms along the way. Call 541-221-8592 for more information.
• Pack a picnic and enjoy a summer day at Lavelle Vineyards. They are having an open house Labor Day weekend, September 1-3.
• Load up the kids in the car and head up to Belknap Hot Springs. It is a wonderful place to relax and is located a mere 56 miles from Eugene up the McKenzie Highway. The springs boast beautiful gardens with paths meandering through natural settings. Stay in the lodge, cabins, tents, or at an RV sight. Belknap has two pools that are fed by natural hot springs. Belknap has a wonderful outdoor barbeque serving up burgers, hot dogs, etc. If that does not sound to your liking, you can always head to Sisters for lunch. You can also enjoy Belknap’ sister site Camp Yale, only 1 mile from Belknap Hot Springs. The site has full access to the pool at their main location. Local attractions are mountain biking, numerous hiking trails, and fishing in the nearby river and reservoirs. Biking paths include the 26 mile McKenzie River Trail which is famous for its biking paths.
• Did you know Willamette Pass is open during the summer too? You can take the Oregon Skyway to the top of Willamette Pass and hike or bike back down the mountain. Pack a picnic and enjoy the scenery from the top of the mountain. You just might want to put a boat in at one of the lakes that you can spot from the top of the pass and fish for dinner.
• Play disc golf at Willamette Pass. Enjoy 18 holes of downhill disc golf. Purchase a ticket for the Oregon Skyway and enjoy hours of fun as you make your way down the mountain on September 1 and 2. A course map is available in the store at the Willamette Pass Lodge.
• Check out Salt Creek Falls. We have all heard of Multnomah Falls, but did you know that Salt Creek Falls is Oregon’s second tallest waterfall? Falling an impressive 286 feet, it is located approximately 5 miles west of Willamette Pass.
• Don’t have a boat? Rent a kayak, canoe or stand up paddleboard for the day or the whole weekend! Northwest Canoe Tour at Alton Baker Park rents by the hour and by the day.
• Don’t have a bike? Rent one from Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life in Eugene for the day — or for the weekend for that matter!
• Hit the Oregon Coast. Head out to Florence and visit or camp at Cape Perpetua. At the campground, you will be in awe of The Giant Spruce, standing nearly 200 feet tall.There is a lookout tower built of rock on the bluff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. If you have never been, I would highly recommend the trip, whether it is for the day or the weekend.
• Roll down the dunes at Honeyman State Park. Great swimming holes, fishing, camping, hiking, and biking are all favorite activities. Across from Honeyman is Whoahink Lake.
• Check out the Three Rivers Casino & Hotel in Florence. I spoke with Matt Walton of Sand Master Park in Florence and they are holding their second annual Pro/Am Sandboard competition at Three Rivers Casino. The event is free to compete or watch. Walton promises a pretty spectacular show. You will find some of the best pro-sandboarders competing, including Digiacomo Dias, Brazil’s champion — “easily the best sandboarder in the world,” according to Walton. The competition is Saturday, September 1 from 2-4 pm. Warm-up will begin approximately two hours prior, so there will be plenty to see before the actual show starts! September 1st is the final sandboard event of the year in the U.S. so grab your board, some wax and head for the dunes. According to Walton, “You will see tricks that you never thought possible on a sandboard.” Some boarders will be catching 30 to 40 feet of air. Sand Master Park also has rentals available to go play in the sand.
• Watch a movie in the park. Did you know that movies are held in various parks for free in the summer? For example, on Friday, August 31st, Happy Feet 2 will be playing for free at Ruff Park in Springfield. The park is located at 1161 N 66th St. Springfield, OR 97478.
• Dance in the park. Sunday, September 2, grab your dancing shoes and head down to Sladden Park where you will find local DJ’s mixing it up. Bring your chair or blanket and sit back and relax.
• Eugene RC Aeronauts are holding a Labor Day Fun Fly on September 3 from 9 am to 4 pm at 92560 Alvadore Rd in Junction City. More than 50 remote control planes and helicopters are expected to be in the air at this event.
Without a doubt, there are numerous activities to take part in if you do not have any plans yet for Labor Day Weekend. From the Oregon coast to the city of Eugene, many businesses and communities will be hosting events that are sure to pique the interest of many travelers. As always, be safe and have a wonderful holiday weekend.