By Paul Garrod
LAWRENCE – The Lawrence Ox Roast & Homecoming festival on Labor Day weekend, Sept. 2 -4, will celebrate a century-plus tradition, while marking the annual event.
The event began on Labor Day, 1921, as Lawrence area businessmen put on a one-day event featuring music, a parade, baseball games and more, including “5,000 free ox roast sandwiches”. The event continued through the years, briefly stopping during World War II. It then returned during the 1950s and 1960s, before ending before the close of the latter decade. It was revived in 1985 as a three-day event to mark the village’s sesquicentennial.
The event officially kicks-off on Saturday with a pancake breakfast from 7:30 to noon at the Lawrence Township Community Services Building. The Watermelon Run will begin at 8 a.m. A Farmers Market will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lawrence Village Park. Other events scheduled during Saturday include a 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament at 9 a.m. The Lawrence Community Branch Library book sale at the Old Town Hall, downtown, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., then again on Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m., and Labor Day, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cardio drumming begins at 10 a.m. Also planned is a chalk the walk, beginning at 11 a.m. at the library. Ox Roast royalty awards will be presented at 2:30 p.m.
A wide variety of music will get underway Saturday afternoon, with Chick & the Boomers beginning at 3 p.m. At 7 p.m., Jimmy & the Mortals will perform at the Lawrence Lions’ Beet Tent from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m.
The Lawrence Alumni Banquet will be held at 6 p.m. at the Van Buren Conference Center. A ticket is required for that event.
At dusk, a lighted truck parade will be held, and will travel down St. Joseph Street.
On Sunday, a breakfast will be held from 8 to 11 a.m. at the Lawrence American Legion Hall. At 9 a.m. a church service will be held at the Lawrence Village Park pavilion. A car show will begin at 11 a.m., with registration from 9 to 11 a.m.
Music will get underway Sunday afternoon with The Black River Band starting at 1 p.m., as well as a Kids’ Pedal Pull. The Scott Spears Band will perform at 8 p.m., at the Lions’ Beer Tent.
On Monday, Labor Day, the Ox Roast & Homecoming Parade will step off at 11 a.m., followed by music by Luke Lenhart at noon at the park pavilion. Also at noon, free Ox Roast sandwiches will be givn out at the Lawrence American Legion Hall, and the Lawrence United Methodist Church will hold a chicken dinner at the church.
The festival concludes at 3 p.m. with raffle drawings.