Labor Day in 1890 was celebrated on Monday, September 1, although some events associated with the day were celebrated several days before. One, a butchers’ picnic held at Loveland, Iowa, on Sunday, attracted the attention of the Omaha Daily Bee, partly because of the role played by the butchers of Omaha and South Omaha in what the Bee on September 2 described as a rowdy event.
The Bee noted that the picnic, sponsored by the butchers of Council Bluffs, had included an invitation to the butchers of Omaha and South Omaha to participate. “The South Omaha butchers conceived the idea that it would be fun to stay away and play a practical joke on their Council Bluffs brethren, . . . They sent a defiant challenge to the Missouri Valley boys [near the picnic site at Loveland] to be on hand with all of their best fighters for South Omaha was coming up there to clean out all western Iowa.”
Missouri Valley butchers sent a large contingent to the picnic to defend their honor against Omaha and South Omaha. Between six hundred and one thousand people attended. A large quantity of beer—fifty kegs, according to the Bee—enlivened the crowd. Not one of the South Omaha men who had sent the defiant challenge was present.
Learn other details of the rowdy celebration, in which “[n]obody was seriously hurt, but blood flowed like beer,” in a Timeline column on the Nebraska State Historical Society website. — Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor for Research and Publications