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MIDDLEPORT REVIVES ITS TRADITION OF ENDING SUMMER WITH A BANG

The Labor Day weekend festivities here reflect the personality of this quiet Niagara County community. Quiet, that is, except for its love of fireworks.

Labor Day in Middleport was traditionally the time of the annual fire company field day.

"Field day was a big deal, and they always had fireworks," said Julie Maedl, a member of the Labor Day Weekend Celebration Committee and village trustee. With the demise of field day, there were no end-of-summer celebrations for 12 years until Labor Day celebrations were revived by the village tourism committee.

"That was on a very low-key scale, and then, just last year, the community youth center sponsored Labor Day and they got fireworks," said Mrs. Maedl. The village on the Erie Canal was back in the business of sending summer off with a bang.

"Labor Day is not a traditional fireworks weekend," said Mrs. Maedl, "but because Middleport was used to having them, we really missed them."

There is one fly in the ointment: Professionally produced pyrotechnics are expensive.

Since this is a community celebration, the committee went to the community. "It's strictly done on a voluntary basis," said Mrs. Maedl, who has lived in Middleport for 31 years. "I wish we could get a fund set up between the village and the town, but at this point it's strictly done by soliciting individuals for donations and we send out letters to local businesses for donations." The committee plans to acknowledge donors with the publication of a thank-you list.

A separate savings account has been set up for the fireworks fund. "It would really be nice to go into next year, if this is what the community wants to do, if they really like the fireworks and want to keep them, then they can donate to this specific account and hopefully we'll have some money to start out next year," said Mrs. Maedl.

The celebration weekend will be kicked off with a breakfast served by Boy Scout Troop 23 starting at 7 a.m. at the Masonic Lodge on Main Street on Saturday.

Other activities planned for Saturday are the Rotary Club's flea market and auction, the Tourism and Beautification Committee's Kiddie Parade at 2 p.m. and a chicken barbecue at the Middleport Methodist Church beginning at 4 p.m.

The Bourbon Street Brass, a local group will be playing Dixieland and brass at 6 p.m. in the Village Green. Saturday evening will be capped by a home varsity football game at Royalton-Hartland Central School, followed by a fireworks display produced by Young Explosives Corp. of Rochester.

The next day, Sept. 6, brings diverse entertainment, including a three-on-three basketball tournament, a storyteller and a concert band performance. Sept. 7 features the traditional Fireman's Handlay Drill Competition at 10 a.m.

"The community turns out for the Labor Day Festivities and they are often joined by boaters who dock in Middleport for the weekend to enjoy the various activities. Generally, we get between 50 and 70 boats, so we have a very good boating turnout," said Mrs. Maedl.

"If people like a little bit of a low-key, family-oriented fun, it's a great weekend," she added.