Firemen's Field Days should remain on Labor Day weekend

I would like to comment on the Editorial in the September 15, 2010 edition of the Skaneateles Press, "Why not consider moving the Field Daze?" I think we need to look back at history and tradition, something that is constantly being eroded with recent changes.

Before 1896 the Skaneateles Fire Department held annual 'Firemen's Days' on the last week of August or the second week of September. It was something the whole community looked forward to as part of the fabric of Skaneateles. In 1896 the Fire Department moved the event to Labor Day Monday. And there remained for 114 years, Labor Day weekend. In the recent decades it was expanded to Sunday and Monday of Labor Day weekend. Then most recently it was moved off Monday to Saturday and Sunday, to give the firefighters a chance to enjoy the actual Labor Day holiday on Labor Day.

The Fire Department has always been aware of the other events county-wide on Labor Day. Bridgeport Fire Department also has field days that same day, along with the competition of the New York State Fair. Our event still drew good crowds. Skaneateles people looked at the Labor Day event as the last blast of the summer season. People would get their lawns chairs out in the morning to reserve a good spot to watch the large parade. Children loved the rides and all the great eats. The chicken BBQ always sold out. There was also a mix of music styles, games, and prizes followed by a spectacular fireworks display. What better way to end the summer season?

Now the Skinnyman Race event has taken over the Labor Day weekend. It was thought of something to add to the excitement of the weekend. In the few years it has run, it became the dominant event in the Village. It probably will become part of the Skaneateles annual event schedule just like the Antique Show, Sidewalk Sale Days, Library Book Sale and the Classic Boat Show.

With this in mind and the comment in the Editorial, we should look at who actually should adjust their event's days. The Fire Department has been on Labor Day weekend for 114 years. The Skinnyman Race, 6. The proposed Fourth of July week end would be fine for the Race as, except for the Scouts' Lighting of the Lake on the 3rd, it is wide open. We have so little left of Skaneateles traditions, let's try and keep Labor Day for the Fire Department's event.

Jorge Batlle, Life Member & Historian, Skaneateles Fire Department.

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