Thursday, September 1, 2016

six reasons you might want to come to Lawrence this weekend

Flag at Lawrence City Hall

Looking for things to do this Labor Day weekend?  Have you ever thought of visiting Lawrence, the city that played a huge role in US labor history?  You can celebrate Italian culture, Lebanese culture, and labor history from Friday evening through Monday. Assuming that Hurricane Hermine leaves us alone, this is a great time to make that visit. Here are a few reasons that you might want to visit Lawrence this weekend:

1. Bread and Roses Heritage Festival

The festival commemorates the Strike of 1912. Yeah, in Lawrence they actually celebrate labor on Labor Day. The day long festival features, among other things, a live history stage  where you can learn about Lawrence's history and its present from  historians, writers, union representatives, and community activists.  There's live music on multiple stages, kids' activities, trolley tours, historic walking tours, and tables with vendors and non-profit organizations.

Monument to the 1912 Strikers

2. Moody Street Sound

They will be at Bread and Roses. Yes, you get to hear this fantastic band from Lowell on the Robert Frost Stage in Lawrence, how much more "Merrimack Valley" can you get? Trust me, you need to hear Jessenia Moriera's vocals. She's amazing.
Crowd at the Main Stage (2013)

3. Giant Puppets

What could be more perfect for Labor Day than political theater performed by giant puppets? Bread and Puppet Theater will once again perform at the Bread and Roses Heritage Festival. They've been appearing regularly for years and they're always popular.
Bread & Puppet's Bus and Props before the Performance (2014)

4. Feast of the Three Saints

Friday evening thru Sunday afternoon Lawrence's Italian community celebrates their Italian heritage, honors Saints Alfio, Filadelfo, and Cirino, and raises money for many local non-profits . Even if you're not Italian, this celebration will wow you with great food, free music, old friends (if you're Italian and from Lawrence like my brother-in-law), a torchlight parade, fireworks, and people yelling Viva Sant Alfio!
One of Lawrence's Canals

5. Crispelli

What? You've never had crispelli? "Fried dough" doesn't even begin to cover it -- my favorite is stuffed with ricotta, but I'm told that the anchovy ones are really good too.  This Sicilian treat is so closely associated with Lawrence that legend has it you may not be able to find it anywhere else in the US. The famed Italian Kitchen on Common Street offers crispellli along with the more widely known  arancini (rice balls) as their main menu items all year round.  They'll be serving up crispelli during the Feast of the Three Saints all weekend. Lining up for crispelli is a Lawrence Labor Day Weekend tradition.
Immigrant City Mural

6. The Mahrajan at St. Anthony Church

Love Lebanese food? Lawrence has long been home to a large Lebanese community. Since the early 20th century when immigrants came from Lebanon to work in the woolen mills, Lebanese food and culture has been a big feature of Lawrence life. St. Anthony Maronite Church may well be the oldest Maronite parish in the United States. The Maronite patriarch even visited Lawrence this summer (back in June).  St. Anthony's will be celebrating the Mahrajan Festival, a celebration of all things Lebanese, especially food. Saturday and Sunday are the days to check out homemade Lebanese delicacies.
Immigrant City Archives

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