Belding Labor Day celebration brings summer to an end (Photo Gallery)

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 12:20 pm on Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Rylee McGowan, 5, left, and brother Connor McGowan, 3, of Belding, collect pieces of candy during the Labor Day parade Monday morning in Belding. — Daily News/Cory Smith

BELDING — During a four-day stretch that symbolically celebrates the contributions of the working force, signals the end of the summer season and marks the start of school for students, this year’s Labor Day celebration in Belding offered visitors one final time to relax and enjoy a perfect weekend of clear skies, warm weather and old-fashioned fun.

In summing up the festival, Belding Labor Day Homecoming organizer Mike Tefft said that the event “couldn’t have gone smoother.”

“This was a beautiful four days,” Tefft said. “I think when the weather, the people and everybody comes together, it just makes for a good weekend. I think everybody had a really good time.”


Tefft said some of the major highlights of this year’s festival were the car and motorcycle show, the fireworks show and the parade.

Ryan Goetz and Angie Durdle, who recently moved to Belding with their three children, Madison, 9, Emma, 6- and 7-month-old Isabella, agreed wholeheartedly that this year’s parade was a successful one. The new Belding residents laid a blanket out on the corner of Washington and Bridge streets overnight to assure they had a prime spot to watch the parade Monday morning.

“It was a pretty good parade,” Goetz said. “I always enjoy seeing the veterans and servicemen in the parade, and they were definitely featured.”

Durdle said she also enjoyed seeing many military veterans in the parade, also sighting a plane that flew over downtown Belding during the parade carrying a written message in support of war veterans courtesy of Stahlin Non-Metallic Enclosures. She added, however, that conditions were very hot for the parade, and she wished she had set up a seating area to view the parade in the shade.

“We were used to Greenville where we always got a shady spot on Cass Street for the Danish Parade,” she said. “It was hot today, but we still enjoyed the parade.”

On Saturday, classic and modern cars rolled into downtown Belding and parked along Main Street for the car and motorcycle show. John LaClear, who organized the event, said this year’s show was as successful a car show as he’s ever seen in his many years of working with such events.

“I’m so happy,” he said. “Being my first year here in Belding to do this, it has just amazed me. I didn’t expect that many cars to be in this show in my first year of running it. We passed all expectations I had.”

LaClear said nearly 150 cars and motorcycles were entered in this year’s show, with vehicles rolling in from across the state.

“I was told by one gentleman today that this was the best of 40 car shows he had been too all year,” LaClear said. “I think having the show downtown on Main Street made for a great experience.”

As festivities began to wind down on Monday, the talent show finals featured several acts from talented vocalists, musicians and dancers who took to the stage to show off their talents.

Winning the 9- to 16-year-old age group song portion of the show was LaRae Flynn, 12, of Belding, who played three songs on her violin and had the crowd clapping along as she fiddled away.

“I’m really excited, and it’s my first time taking place in a competition,” she said.

LaRae said she learned her talents with assistance from one of her grandmothers, who also plays with her.

“I had heard about the violin from my Grandma Flynn, after that I wanted to play it,” she said. “Then I told my mom that I wanted to play it, who called my Grandma Albert, who also wanted to play, and we started together.”

LaRae’s father, Ted Flynn, couldn’t have been more proud of his daughter as family gathered around to congratulate her.

“I’m just very proud of her,” he said. “She works so hard.”

Winning the 9-16-year-old age group for dance was Aubry Hammis of Saginaw.

“I was pretty excited (to win) because I was saving up for an iPod touch,” Hammis said. “I have dance classes in the fall and then I also compete in several dance competitions. Every year I do the dances for talent shows.”

Hammis said she comes to the Belding area nearly every summer with family originally from Lakeview and loves the chance to perform in the Labor Day celebration.

“We come up here a lot in the summer,” she said. “I’ve been dancing since I was 3, so it’s nice to be able to come here and perform.”

Looking back on the four day festival, Tefft said he couldn’t be more thankful for everyone that was involved in this year’s celebration.

“Everybody that was involved, whether they were participating as a vendor, volunteer or spectator, it all just went so smooth, like clockwork, as it should,” he said. “We planned for it to go like that and things don’t always go as planned, but this year it just couldn’t have been smoother.”

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