Bread & Roses fest celebrates 35 years

By Madeline Hughes, Eagle Tribune


Hundreds of people gathered Monday at Campagnone Common for the Bread & Roses Heritage Festival, including a few dozen who attended a ceremony at the 1912 Strikers’ Monument where they received a brief history lesson on why they had the day off from work.

“If it wasn’t for these folks, we wouldn’t have a Labor Day, we wouldn’t have a weekend,” said David Meehan, co-chair of the Strikers’ Monument Committee.

The monument stands in remembrance of the textile strike in Lawrence in 1912 known as the Bread and Roses Strike. The nine-week strike began in January when thousands of workers walked out of the city’s factories because of a pay cut of 32 cents a week when workers’ hours were reduced by law.

The festival, now in its 35th year, celebrates those strikers along with the 100th anniversary of another strike in 1919.

“It’s the sister strike of 1912,” said Jonas Stundzia, co-chair of the monument committee. “It was to sure up hours and concentrated on better working conditions. The 1919 strike was more vicious, more violent, and much longer at 16 weeks.”

He explained that most strikes occurred in the winter and that was particularly hard for workers who gave up their paycheck to strike when there was the added expense of heating a home.

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Bread & Roses Festival evolves while honoring tradition - Hundreds celebrate 34th annual event in Lawrence

By Kiera Blessing, Eagle Tribune


Hundreds gathered on Campagnone Common Monday afternoon, braving the heat to take in the sights and sounds of the 34th annual Bread & Roses Festival.

All ages came out to celebrate Labor Day. As the sound of a local brass band wafted through the park, children enjoyed pony rides, balloons and a reptile exhibit while local vendors sold their wares and crowds huddled in the shade to enjoy the live entertainment.

“The music is always awesome, there’s great activities for kids and I love that there’s always a social justice focus,” said Stephanie Buchholz, a Lawrence woman who attended with her three young children.


As always, the festival honored the history of the 1912 Lawrence textile workers’ strike over pay and working conditions. The successful strike lasted two months and united immigrants – many women and children – from many ethnic backgrounds.


“It’s lovely. Just absolutely lovely,” said Andrea Freeman, a first-time attendee from Leominster. “How many things honor something so significant this far after? It’s just amazing. ... You have to keep working together to keep unions strong.”

'Dreamers and Doers' honored at Bread and Roses

By Terry Date, Eagle Tribune


Young activists stood by the Strikers' Monument on the Campagnone Common, reflecting on the festivities to unfold there on Labor Day at the Bread and Roses Heritage Festival.

The writer of a drama adapted for Monday's finale — the multimedia presentation "Lawrence Hustle & Soul" — tilted his head.

"It is crazy that I have (lived) here my whole life," says Nilson Mata, 24, of Lawrence, "and not been to the festival before."

Bread and Roses, now in its 34th year, combines remembrance and revelry and will reach out to youth with its theme of honoring young activists and artists — the "Dreamers and Doers" cited in the festival logo.

The festival will celebrate labor and culture on three stages and the Campagnone lawn. Entertainment and activities include hip-hop and folk music, dance, history talks and trolley tours, social justice presentations, information booths, soap box speakers and ethnic food.

Eight Great Things to do this Weekend

Merrimack Valley Magazine


ONE: Celebrate Labor Day with the time-honored tradition of the Bread & Roses Heritage Festival on Campagnone Common in Lawrence from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. A day of activism and family fun, the Festival boasts three stages of socially-conscious performances, an array of family activities, rows of community vendors, historical trolley and walking tours, culturally diverse food offerings, educational presentations and more!

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BREAD & ROSES HERITAGE FESTIVAL at Campagnone (North) Common, 200 Common St., Lawrence, on Sept. 3, 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Free. The festival is an open-air arts and music festival honoring Lawrence’s multicultural roots and rich labor history while commemorating the most significant event in Lawrence history: the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. Historic trolley tours, walking tours, family activities and more.



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Labor Day Legacy

History, activism, and family fun come together at the 34th annual Bread and Roses Heritage Festival in Lawrence. The multicultural event commemorates the 1912 Bread and Roses strike led by female textile workers. Take a free trolley tour or walking tour, enjoy a music or dance performance, check out the kids’ activities and food vendors, and more. 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free.

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Photos by Sabrina Boggio, Steve Osemwenkhae, Robert Lussier, BRHC Archives