LOWELL | With an emphasis on conservation, the town is "Dreaming Green" for its Labor Day Parade and staging its festival at a new site by repurposing the former Rieter Automotive acreage at 101 W. Oakley Avenue.
It's a win-win, said Lowell Chamber of Commerce President Carrie Austgen of the new location that affords greater parking and a blacktop surface for vendors.
"We're able to have a larger carnival, too," she said.
It's most appropriate, Austgen said, that the festival found a new home for the 10th anniversary of the partnership between the town and the chamber to present the holiday weekend events.
"We're very excited...I think we've grown with this," she said.
The new site's owners — Jeff, Mike and Dave Austgen of the Lowell area — are providing the site free of charge, she said.
The celebration begins at 4 p.m. Friday at the festival site one block south of its former home at American Legion Post 101. There will be food vendors, inflatables for kids and entertainment.
Naked Apes will perform from 7 to 11 p.m. on stage.
Runners and walkers must rise early Saturday to register for the Tri-Creek Education Foundation's 5K Walk/Run that steps off at 8 a.m. from the Tri-Creek central office at 105 W. Oakley (former Lowell Middle School parking lot). Registration starts at 6:30 a.m.
A huge sidewalk sale by town merchants is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, then the festival grounds open from noon to 7 p.m. for artisan and vendor booths which join the inflatables and entertainment.
The beer garden will be open from noon to 11:30 p.m. Saturday and music by Mr. Funnyman is from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m.
New Saturday is a Cookie Contest in the Family Tent where bakers of all ages (categories are 5-8, 8-13, 14-17 and 18-plus years) are invited to compete and showcase their goodies. Cookies should be brought to the Family Tent between 3:30 and 4 p.m.
The Mill Street Car Cruise sponsored by the Lowell Lions Club will close off Mill Street at the downtown's west end from 5 to 9 p.m. for cool and classic car fun.
The festival grounds will open at noon Sunday for the arrival of children from the 60th Annual Lowell Labor Day Kiddie Parade.
Registration at Old Town Square on the downtown's east end will be at 12:15 p.m. with the youngsters stepping off at 1 on their way to the festival site at Harding Drive and West Oakley Avenue.
Prizes in the various categories will be presented by the sponsoring Lowell Parks Department. At 1:30 p.m. there will be face painting and animal balloons.
In Good Company will provide the music in the Centier Tent from 2 to 3:30 p.m., then Ripple will take to the stage from 6 to 10 p.m.
Saturday evening goes out with a bang with the annual fireworks show behind Oak Hill Elementary School at 425 S. Nichols Street. A $2 parking donation will be accepted.
The 94th Annual Lowell Labor Day Parade, one of the longest running, continuous Labor Day parades in the Midwest, will step off at 10 a.m. Sept. 2 from the town's east end and wend its way westward to Harding Drive.
Annually featuring more than 100 entries, the parade's theme this year is Dreaming Green, a reference to the town's designation as the 2013 Green Community of the Year by the Lake County Solid Waste District.
Lowell Town Administrator Sue Peterson is the parade organizer.
"Several entries have indicated they will be following the theme," Peterson said. Monetary prizes will be awarded to the Best Parade Entry Overall, Grand Prize for Best Use of Recycled Materials, and First and Second for Best Use of Recycled Materials.
New this year, Peterson said, is an entry certain to touch the hearts of parade watchers. The Fallen Heroes entry from Northwest Indiana includes a float and 200 placards with the pictures and names of "Fallen Heroes."
She said local Scout groups have been contacted to carry placards alongside the float.