Misty Atwood and her niece and nephew, Hannah and Trenton, flying a kite at Winged Deer Park Saturday. (Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press)
Holiday weekends are typically jam-packed with numerous activities and plans, but many area residents agree Labor Day is one time to sit back, grab a burger or a hot dog and just relax.
It seemed as if many were already in the holiday spirit Saturday, as people were seen stocking up on cookout food favorites or were out on a boat enjoying one of their last days of the summer on the lake.
At Hamilton Meats Inc. in Gray, a continuous flow of cars were pulling up and occupants running into the shop to grab choice meats for their holiday celebration.
Customer Brian Palagyi, of Jonesborough, said he would be cooking out during the weekend and said he was “getting steaks, pork chops, hot dogs, a little bit of everything.”
Palagyi said while he would be doing some housework over the weekend, he said his family would mostly be taking it easy and taking in some football games on TV.
Behind the counter at Hamilton Meats, Tom Thomson, retail butcher for the store, said his customers had been coming in waves so far Saturday.
“They’re (customers) so busy with the yard and everything, so they’re waiting until the last minute and they go ‘oh, I need to go to the butcher shop,’ ” Thomson said. “This is kind of slow right now, but about 2 o’clock today they’ll be parking across the street.”
He said some of the popular selling items at the store usually include New York strips, rib eyes and a lot of pork, but on this particular holiday customers come in after certain items.
“The big thing that we move, especially on Labor Day, is the filet mignon and our fresh burgers. We call these candy bars, because we sell them like candy bars. We’ll sell a lot of ribs today and pork shoulders. We do a lot of pre-orders. Today, about 60 percent of our business has already been boxed up.”
Boxing up one pre-order that was around $350 worth of meat, Thomson said the average customer shopping at Hamilton Meats Saturday would spend about $90. He added that while most people are rushing in and out, as they are preparing for a visit from family members or considering boating on one of the local lakes, they are in pretty good spirits.
“Of all holidays, this is one of the few where families like to get together, which is good,” he said. “They’re (customers) in good spirits because they’ve got family traveling.”
While a couple of parties were taking place around Meredith Pavilion at Winged Deer Park Saturday, a few boaters, wakeboarders, paddleboarders, as well as a few jet skis, were roaming the nearby Boone Lake.
The wind wasn’t particularly strong down by the water, but the slight breeze in a field near the lake was just enough to grab hold on a Spider-Man kite being flown by Misty Atwood and her niece and nephew, Hannah, 7, and Trenton, 3.
“We’ve just been swimming in the lake and flying kites,” Atwood said. “We’ve been thinking about going to the Boone Dam ... just having a day out today rain or shine. We’re just having a little bit of fun today.”
She said as for holiday celebrations, they didn’t have much planned.
“We might have a cookout later today, but we don’t have too much planned out,” Atwood said. “We’re just going to make it simple. Hamburgers and hot dogs and that’s about it.”
Soaring high on the swing set, Abby Stidham, 7, and her brother Nathan, 5, were enjoying the playground area at Winged Deer Park Saturday with their grandfather, Ray Olinger.
“They’ve been ... mostly swinging and (they’ve been) a little bit on the slides,” Olinger said.
He said the family doesn’t have plans to go anywhere for the holiday weekend, but said they’ll most likely be found hanging out by the water.
“We’ve got a place on the lake down here, so if it’s pretty we’ll probably do some boating and maybe even swim if it’s not too cold,” Olinger said. “With this weather we’ve been having, it may be a little cool to get in the water, but we haven’t tried yet.”
While a cookout is possibly in the mix, he said Labor Day is a time to get together with family.
“It’s just the last holiday of the summer, (the) last chance to get together ... before all of the football kicks in and everybody goes to all the football games,” Olinger said. “We try to make sure it’s a lake day for us. We’ve got a pontoon boat, so we try to get out on it and shut summer down.”
According to the National Weather Service’s website, getting the boat out today may be problematic as there is a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms predicted.
Today’s high is expected to be near 87 degrees and a low of 69 degrees is expected tonight.
Labor Day also has a 60 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms predicted, with a high near 86 and a low of 66.