North Augusta Labour Day celebration back for its 90th year

With the last long weekend of summer underway, people took advantage of the weather north of Brockville for North Augusta's 90th Labour Day celebration weekend.

"It's usually a week long," said North Augusta education & recreation president Bill Tennant.

"This year because of COVID, we've cancelled all the indoor games, but we're still doing four days of outdoor games. So, we have lots of baseball, horseshoes, lots of things to do to celebrate," he said.

The celebration returned this September after being cancelled in 2020, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"The health department made sure that we were doing everything according to plan and make sure we had good COVID controls in place and they endorsed it and here we are," Tennant said.

Saturday's events included slo-pitch baseball and horseshoes, after Friday night fireworks to kick off the event.

"I'm hearing, what a great deal to be able to get out and see people," Tennant said. "Just move around and talk; that's what everyone is enjoying."

Paul McAuley was working the grill behind the baseball diamond, raising money for local scouting groups.

The scoutmaster told CTV News Ottawa the need has never been more critical.

"In a normal year, we could get up in to the thousands and thousands of dollars raised for kids, sometimes breaking the 10,000 mark," McAuley said. "The last two years have been penniless. It's been tough. We haven't been able to get out, with COVID going on and everything, so the money has been down and we haven't been able to do any events."

Money raised from the weekend food sales will go to local Scout groups and the Youth Movement Project in Prescott, which helps less privileged kids attend jamborees.

McAuley is remaining optimistic that there is light at the end of this pandemic tunnel.

"The sun is shining bright and everything is beautiful," he said. "If you're not in North Augusta, you're not anywhere!"

Robert Porter and his daughters were also enjoying the afternoon, checking out the Kidsville attraction.

"We're here just having a nice time at North Augusta," Porter said. "We're doing painting and colouring and playing."

His two girls having some fun before school begins next week.

"It's so important during this time for us to get out and do something that's a little close to normal," he added. "It's gorgeous today; wonderful day to be outside with people."

When asked about the return to school, his daughter Audrey said she was excited.

Other kids, not so much.

"Very sad," said a young boy on a bike.

"Sort of (excited), but I'd rather be at home," said Isaac Lawrenson.

Mike Brunette, helping his mother with the Kidsville attraction, was just glad to be socializing.

"It's good. It's good to be around other people and not be secluded to your house, so its fun," he said, reminded that shovelling snow is just around the corner.

"I'm going to try not to do that!" he laughed.

A collaboration of sponsorships is footing the bill this weekend, with a car show and fastball tournament planned for Sunday and a parade wrapping up the celebration on Monday.

"All of those expenses have been covered by local organizations and people who have made just tremendous donations to be able to help us do this," Tennant said. "And that's the way they are; they just want to see everybody have a good time. Community coming together, it's always happened out here. It means everything.

"We live for Labour Day weekend in North Augusta. If you've ever lived here, you have to come back for Labour Day. It's sort of the law," Tennant chuckled.