Some people prefer to celebrate Labor Day weekend by taking a picnic at a public park. (Don’t forget to bring the bug spray, I say.)
Other people would rather see a loud band at a sleazy dive. (Don’t forget to bring the bug spray, I say.)
Whatever your predilection – being alone, strolling cheek by jowl with other Hoosiers or putting on your chef’s hat and barbecuing cheeks by jowls – here’s a Labor Day event roundup for you.
Fort Wayne Air Show
In 2004, a laboriously and scrupulously rebuilt P-51C Mustang, the WWII-era plane that is commonly associated with the Tuskegee Airmen, crashed after its engine failed during an air show in Red Wing, Minn.
Don Hinz, the retired United States Navy commander and member of the Minnesota branch of the Commemorative Air Force who had spearheaded the restoration, died as a result of the crash.
The plane had been used as a tool to educate people about the airmen, the first black pilots in the U.S. military, according to pilot Doug Rozendaal.
After Hinz’s death, the next step for others involved in the project was an inevitable one, Rozendaal said.
“The airplane crashed on Saturday and on Sunday afternoon; Don was still our leader,” he said. “He wouldn’t have wanted the project to die with him. We committed the next day to rebuild it.
“We used the example set by the Tuskegee Airmen about how to overcome adversity,” Rozendaal said.
That rebuilt aircraft and an accompanying exhibit that Hinz had only dreamed of will be at the Fort Wayne Air Show, today through Sunday at the Indiana Air National Guard’s 122nd Fighter Wing Base on Ferguson Road next to Fort Wayne International Airport.
Admission is free.
The new RISE ABOVE traveling exhibit is a tractor-trailer rig that expands into a panoramic movie theater, Rozendaal said.
It includes a film footage featuring a pilot’s-eye view of what it’s like to fly a Mustang, he said.
“The flight handbook says, ‘Learning is a change in behavior as the result of experience,’ and we knew we needed to rise to that level,” Rozendaal said.
Rozendaal said he was once a farm boy who had far-fetched dreams of flying and so he can understand “how you achieve something that seems impossible.
“If you were a black kid growing up in Detroit in the ’40s and you wanted to fly the Mustang, that was not a reasonable goal,” he said. “The Mustang was like the space shuttle of its time. It was the sexiest thing in the air.
“Black kids just didn’t do that,” he said.
Enter the Haggis
One of the most cruelly forgotten martial artists in action film history is Scottish-born actor Bruce Liam.
His landmark film, “Enter the Haggis,” marked the first time American moviegoers had seen a deadly assassin use a savory pudding as a weapon.
None of that it true, unfortunately, but a Toronto-based band with Celtic leanings long ago figured out that it pays to wink at your roots.
Enter the Haggis will perform Saturday night at Hammerhead Hall, 6809 S. Hanna St.
Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door.
The Mimi Burns Band opens.
Haggis bassist Mark Abraham said the band will fund its next release thanks to a Kickstarter fundraising campaign that was supposed to raise $20,000 but may end up raising as much as $65,000.
It will be a concept album filled with songs based on stories that appeared in a single edition of the national paper of Canada, the Globe and Mail, published March 30.
“It’s pretty ambitious,” he said. “The tentative title is ‘A Modest Revolution.’ It came out the day after the (Canadian) federal budget came out. There’s some pretty dry stuff in there, but the big headline that day was ‘(Prime Minster Stephen) Harper’s Modest Revolution.’ ”
Abraham said the paper also ran an obituary of bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs that day, so “that was an easy one” to adapt to the band’s particular needs.
The release date of “A Modest Revolution” is appropriately set for March 30, 2013.
The theme for this CD probably wouldn’t have emerged had it not been for the band having spent “a lot of hours in a van,” Abraham said.
“We have certainly developed notoriety for never doing the same thing twice,” he said.
“We had pretty good radio on the last record, but for the most part we’ve had to earn our own way,” Abraham said. “So we try to do things that pique our interest and make people’s ears perk up.”
One of the things the band did on its last European tour to pique some things and perk others was to invite their fans to travel with them.
Some of the 60 people who ended up going on that trip had next-to-no idea initially what Enter the Haggis was, Abraham said.
“There will always be a few people who want to go Ireland and say, ‘Hey, this band I have never heard of before is going to Ireland. That looks like a cool way to do it,’ ” he said.
Fort Wayne-born, Queens-based and Manhattan-steeped stand-up comic Stephanie Holmes will return to town tonight.
She and fellow comic Adam Chisnall will perform at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. at 816 Pint and Slice, 816 S. Calhoun St., as part of her Mini Midwestern Tour.
In the years since Holmes graduated from Leo High School, she has been named one of “New York’s Funniest” at the New York Comedy Festivals in 2009 and 2011, was accepted into the Friar’s Club, went viral with her YouTube comedy videos, opened for Margaret Cho and headlined at Caroline’s on Broadway, which is equivalent for a musician of performing at Lincoln Center although it is not nearly as great as being a stand-up comic who has headlined at Lincoln Center.
Holmes said she has become a more political comedian in recent years.
“I don’t see a lot of female comics doing political stuff and it’s a shame,” she said. “We have to fight for our rights, so we should be more political.”
Holmes recently moved from Brooklyn to Queens because, she said, she realized she is not a hipster.
“I am not ironic enough,” she said.
Her neighborhood in Queens, Long Island City, has “started to feel like a small town,” Holmes said.
“I have started to feel like that’s my Leo, Ind.,” she said.
Holmes said she plans to spend a month in Fort Wayne next summer teaching comedy at the multiuse artistic sanctum called Wunderkammer that her good buddy Dan Swartz is spiffing up.
On the subject of what it is like to be a friend of Swartz, she said: “It’s tough. It seems like every person he meets becomes his best friend. It’s like, ‘What am I? Chopped liver?’
“He is such a genuinely caring person,” Holmes said. “It’s kind of annoying, frankly.”
Auburn auction, festival
Labor Day weekend is a time when small groups of people travel in order to conglomerate with larger groups of people for the purpose of enjoying that quintessential summertime activity known affectionately as Crowd Conglomeration.
I believe the Beach Boys sang about it.
One of the biggest crowd conglomerations in these parts on this weekend occurs at the Auburn Fall Collector Car Auction, Swap Meet & Car Corral and the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival.
It all happens today through Sunday.
Celebrity cars in attendance this year will include the Batmobile and celebrity celebrities will include baseball legend Reggie Jackson, racing legend Bobby Unser and Barry Weiss, charming co-star of A&E’s “Storage Wars.”
I have two words for people who want to know how to be able to tell the real Barry Weiss from an impostor Barry Weiss: skeleton gloves.
Grabill Country Fair
Family gatherings are always a good time to revive such old fashioned games as Clothespin Bottle Drop, Pitch Penny, Duck Duck Goose and Duck the Pitched Bottle.
Perhaps it would be best to skip that last one altogether.
Another charmingly old-fashioned activity that northeast Indiana residents avail themselves of each and every year at this time is the Grabill Country Fair.
It starts Thursday, which is not technically part of Labor Day weekend.
But should the Grabill Country Fair really be disqualified on a technicality?
As far as I am concerned, Labor Day weekend is whenever you want it to be.
It can start as soon as you clock out today and can go on indefinitely.
The only thing you have no control over is when you start to feel sad about summer’s end.
For depressives like me, it will probably start as soon as I clock out today.