Labor Day may not be the official end of summer, but for many, it sure feels that way. Warm weather will potentially linger for weeks. Fall doesn’t actually begin until the third week in September, and pumpkin spice flavored everything is making an early appearance. Regardless of the axial tilt of the planet, Labor Day is the Summer of 2020’s last stand.
Low Activity, High Stress
There is no question that the Summer of 2020 was decidedly absent. With all the necessary Public Health restrictions, this summer was as much about survival as it was about revelry. With the lack of normally abundant public activities and vacation plans canceled, we turned to home-based fun and spent the summer sprucing up the house and lounging in our yards.
There has also been stress, with issues ranging from chaotic school starts to significant social justice issues to job losses potential and real. Local small businesses find themselves in their most precarious financial position in over a decade. Many of us are more than ready to skip Labor Day and move right on to Thanksgiving…or maybe Easter 2021.
Still, we should give summer its due. Regardless of how we feel about this summer, Labor Day is still a worthy celebration. And even though that celebration won’t be with parades and fireworks, it can still be local.
Now more than ever is a time to celebrate! By supporting local businesses and restaurants we can declare, in one voice, that our summer was not just about surviving but about solidarity.
If summer has to end, let’s finish in style!
10 Ways to Celebrate a Local Labor Day
- Farmers Markets: This is prime time Farmers’ Market season. Check out our list of Farmers Markets in the region to pick up the freshest locally grown ingredients for a farm to table end of summer celebration.
- BBQ: Many of us are neither set up nor have the time to do what these low and slow pitmasters produce. Our recent list of local smoke and sauce chefs will make for perfect take out. The only clean up involved is washing your hands and face after the picnic.
- We all Scream for Ice Cream: Although these local soft-serve places will be open long after Labor Day, time and opportunity grow short. We recommend having ice cream during the Labor Day weekend…perhaps each day of the weekend. Nothing is more local than these iconic summer destinations.
- Grilling: The hot thing to do this summer was to fix up our yards and homes. With all that hard work behind us now is the time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor (no pun intended). Sure, mega marts have meat and vegetables to grill but why not focus more locally. Check out great grilling options at markets like House of Meats (multiple locations across the city), Bellville Brother’s Meats in Bowling Green, Stanley’s Market (best kailbassa…ever), Zavotski’s, and The Fish Market (Erie, MI).
- Deli’s: We are blessed with some amazing local groceries. One of the greatest things about those local markets is their deli’s. Many of their deli products, like potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, ham, or tuna salad, are made in house. These amazing salads have three advantages. First, you don’t have to heat up the house. Second, you can buy just enough for a meal and not worry about the potato salad “growing” (then eating said potato salad for a week). Finally, salads like this are work…and Labor Day is, ironically, about taking a day off. Check out the delis at Walt Churchill’s Markets, Sautter’s Market, Kazmaier’s, Sofo’s, and Food Town.
- Deli’s Again: Besides the wonderful Americana deli’s, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention two of the best Mediterranean delis in town. Both the Middle East Market and Tiger Bakery have breathtakingly good hummus, savory pastries, and salads to go. There is nothing wrong with having a grilled hot dog and tabouli on the side. In fact, let’s make that a new thing.
- Speaking of hot dogs: If you don’t feel like cooking your own hotdogs, make sure to visit these local chili dog places. As mentioned before, this is Labor Day which is, in many respects, an exercise in avoiding work.
- Local Products: One of the best ways to support our local business community is by using local products. Those products include Rudy Hot Dog Sauce, Tony Packo’s products, anything from Dei Fratelli (try their salsa), Garlic Expressions, and Gertie’s BBQ Sauce, to name a few. Here is our extensive list of local products, including food, cars, gifts, and books.
- Metroparks Toledo: If Labor Day is the last hurrah of summer, then our Metroparks are sprawled across the region just waiting for one last adventure. Now more than ever these well kept public treasures provide respite from that feeling of being “locked down”. One of our favorites is the Botanical Gardens complete with its artisan village.
- Local Libations: The local wine and beer scene is both extensive and varied. Enjoying local libations is a great way of supporting these small businesses. Many have struggled with the gathering restrictions and curfews and, now more than ever, are counting on support to make it through the season. You can check out Majestic Oak Winery, Firelands, Knotty Vines, Gillig, and Chateau Tebeau Winery. For brewers check out Wild Side, Earnest, Black Frog, Maumee Bay and Neon Groundhog.
Honorable Mention: Dining Outside
Finally for those just want to sit and have a meal brought to them, our area has a plethora of outdoor dining options which, given the current restrictions on indoor dining, is the way to go. Check out our list of restaurants that offer dining al fresco.