By Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Troth

CAMP CASEY -- Warrior Country put work on hold Aug. 31 to celebrate Labor Day with a festival on Camp Casey. Almost 5,000 Soldiers, civilians and family members took part in the annual event.

"The Labor Day Festival is the culmination of summer and to recognize that everyone has been working really hard," said Chris Bradford, director of the U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud and Area I's Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

"We started the festival with a parade," he said. "It was a chance to get everyone to walk together and have the typical things you see in a parade -- clowns, people on stilts and floats."

The floats were part of a competition between Area I units, who were vying not only for bragging rights but also prize money for their unit funds.

First place went to Battery B, 1st Battalion, 38th Field Artillery Regiment, 210th Fires Brigade, a $300 gain for their unit.

"Their float was pretty cool," said Bradford. "It was a little, camouflaged, Pinto-type automobile decorated like an MLRS," or Multiple Launch Rocket System.

Second place went to 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment's "Keep Up the Fire" float.
The parade led everyone to the Gateway Club, venue for the bulk of the Labor Day Festival.

In the carnival area were food, games and rides for the festival-goers as well as a petting zoo and craft items for sale.

On stage was a varied mix of entertainment -- Korean bagpipers and drummers, dancers, singers.

And there were tests of skill: a chili cook-off, a hot dog-eating contest and a talent competition.

"The festival was a blast," said Helena Ratzlaff Bauer, who attended the festival. "There were a lot of rides and booths and animals, and a lot of people told me they were grateful that their kids could take part in all these activities."

"We wanted make it something you would see back in the states," Bradford said. "But, being here in Korea we wanted to be able to give a taste of the local culture, so that is why we had traditional drummers and the dancers."

"The cultural dancing was great and they need to continue to have things like that at future events," said Capt. Travis Coates, who was at the festival with his 9-year-old daughter, Trinity.

During the Labor Day Festival, 18 cooks got to show off their cooking talents during the chili cook-off. Each participant had three hours to make chili from scratch.

"There was no canned chili out there," said Bradford, who like everyone else at the festival was free to sample the chilies.

"The contest brought some real heavy competition and of course something that seems to be a theme with any chili lover is that they want it hot," he said. "I had the privilege of watching the judges sweat, and burn their taste buds."

Gabriel Clinton's chili impressed the judges enough to give him first place in the cook off, while John Smith came in a close second. Marie Shultz's chili earned her the crowd favorite award.