Sun and fun to be had at Oak Creek event

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— Oak Creek is the place to be on Labor Day, and it always has been.

For as long as Shirlene White can remember, she has come to the Labor Day celebration. She remembers running -- and, she says, "winning" -- the same potato sack races that children were running Monday in Decker Park.

"Labor Day has stayed the same for all these years," she said.

White was sharing lunch with Republican state Sen. Jack Taylor, whose campaign signs held down the back of a yellow truck turned parade float.

Democratic challenger Jay Fetcher also had a float and both men's signs fought for visibility at the entrance to Decker Park.

Taylor and his wife have attended Oak Creek's Labor Day festivities for more than two decades, he said.

"This is a tradition passed down generation to generation," he said.

White and Taylor were sitting at the picnic table by Robert Alvarez from Kremmling. Alvarez makes the trip to Oak Creek every year.

"This is a good time to see friends and family," White said. "You see classmates that you only see once a year and family members come in from out of town."

All around, Decker Park was full of activity -- volleyball games, a quilt raffle for the Oak Creek Historical Society and endless races for children and adults of all ages.

Winners of the potato sack races were given cash prizes of up to $1 at the finish line.

Labor Day celebrations in Oak Creek began in the early 1900s as a way for coal miners from across the state to organize and talk about unionizing.

This year, there still was a float honoring local coal miners and hourly mine tours offered by the Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg, but the focus was more on having fun.

Oak Creek's Labor Day events began on Friday night with a "Gong Show," Oak Creek's sometimes rowdy version of the 1970s television show where singers and dancers are gonged off the stage if the audience doesn't approve.

This year, an improv comedy troupe from Sabre's Comedy Den in Steamboat Springs performed at the Colorado Bar.

On Saturday, a free outdoor concert featuring four local bands was scheduled for the afternoon, but rain and cold cancelled the concert. Oak Creek musician Cary Kamperschroer was setting up his drum set for the expected show, but organizer Don Williams told him to go home.

"A couple people played but they were just getting cold," Kamperschroer said.

By contrast, Monday's weather couldn't have been more beautiful. The sky was blue, and the sun was out.

There were plenty of bare feet to be seen running among the games, food and family.

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