MMHW file photo

MATTHEWS – After canceling in 2020 due to COVID-19, Matthews Alive organizers are excited to celebrate the Labor Day weekend festival's 29th year safely from Sept. 3 to 6 in downtown Matthews.

The festival attracts more than 125,000 attendees each year. They are drawn to regional artisans, games, amusements, petting zoo, train rides, food vendors and what's billed as the Southeast’s largest Labor Day parade. 

Out of caution, the Matthews Community Center will be closed this year, including the quilt, woodworking and artisan exhibits. Center indoor restrooms and the baby changing station will not be available. 

Hand sanitizer will be placed throughout the festival, with an emphasis in the carnival and inflatable areas. Food and craft vendors, as well as Petting Zoo and Kids’ Train, will have hand sanitizer and hand washing stations.

Bounce houses that usually contain six or more children at once will be replaced with inflatable games that can be cleaned more easily between uses. 

Roland Bibeau, former president of Novant Health Matthews Medical Center, will serve as grand marshal of the Matthews Alive Parade, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Sept. 4. 

Bibeau has been a longtime supporter of Matthews Alive and guided the hospital through the onset of the pandemic. Frontline workers from the medical center will also be honored with him.

This year’s Matthews Alive Parade theme is “Labor (Day) of Love.” Parade entries are encouraged to decorate with the theme in mind, and self-made float entries that utilize the theme will be given entry fee refunds. 

Aug. 15 is the deadline for parade entry. Go to for an application. 

Musical performers include: 

• Carolina Soul and The Chairmen of the Board will play beach and Motown music Sept. 3.

• Continuum, a Journey tribute band from Florida, will groove Sept. 4 at 8:30 pm.

• Bohemian Queen, a Queen tribute band from Los Angeles, will rock out at 8:30 p.m. Sept. 5.

• Jazz performers will take to the stage from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 6. 

Admission and concerts are free. The Kids’ Connection train and petting zoo attractions require purchase. Carnival rides and kids’ inflatable games require tickets. Proceeds benefit the more than 25 area nonprofits working at the festival. 

The event and most of its activities are open Sept. 3 from 6 to 10 p.m., Sept. 4 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sept. 5 from 1 to 10 p.m. and Sept. 6 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Arts and crafts open Sept. 4 and closes slightly earlier each evening. 

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