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8 of the best US Labor Day events for 2018

(CNN) — Although held each year on the first Monday of September, Labor Day has become much more than a 24-hour celebration.

The public holiday, in honor of working people in the United States, signifies the end of summer for many. So it is little wonder that the entire three-day weekend boasts festive events to which people travel from coast to coast.Here are eight destinations that have some of the best Labor Day events, and click the links at the end of the article for more information on them:

San Diego: U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge and Dimensional Art Exposition

At the US Sand Sculpting Challenge and Dimensional Art Expo, some sculptures might weigh over 10 tons.

US Sand Sculpting

This event is so major that the city says it is renaming itself from August 31 to September 3. During this four-day period, it will be known not as San Diego but SAND iego.

World master sculptors will be creating art from quarry sand (the event's co-executive producer Gordon Summer says it is easier to work with than beach sand) and taking part in a competition.

Summer says the event is great for spectators because building sand castles is "something everyone can do and relate to, even if they're not on this [competitive] level."

New Orleans: Southern Decadence

Southern Decadence is sometimes referred to as the "gay Mardi Gras," but the party organizers are reaching out to the whole community and will have family-focused options, too.

Southern Decadence is sometimes referred to as the "gay Mardi Gras," but the party organizers are reaching out to the whole community and will have family-focused options, too.

Kerry Maloney/The Times-Picayune/AP

Down in Louisiana is an event called Southern Decadence, a festive weekend for the LGBT community and friends that's been 47 years in the making. Last year, over 210,000 people were in attendance.

It's a mixed bag of events this year. In fact, the creative mind and producer behind the event, Chuck Robinson, says that it "has evolved and taken a turn," with the types of activities on offer.

He notes the free family-focused concert on Saturday night but promises that ambitious, freewheeling partygoers can still mingle all night at the downtown bars that never close.

New York City: West Indian American Day Carnival

In New York City, the West Indian American Day Carnival Association will put on its event of the year along Brooklyn's Eastern Parkway near Prospect Park. From carnival costumes to Caribbean food, there's plenty for the 1.5 million attendees to love. A reggae night on Thursday, August 30, kicks things off.

Rhea Smith, marketing and PR committee member, highlights some of the food options: jerk chicken and fish, rice and peas, curries, fried chicken, arepas and traditional Spanish dishes such as arroz con pollo.

While the event is dry, attendees can pop into a nearby bar or restaurant for a drink if they want a break from the scene. As Smith puts it: "On carnival day, everybody's open for business."

Denver: Taste of Colorado

Food tends to be an important part of holiday celebrations, and Labor Day is no different.

In Denver, foodies can partake in the Taste of Colorado. Marketing/Event Manager Cary Krukowski explains that the former Festival of Mountain and Plain always involved good eating, but as food became the focus, the festival was renamed. Krukowski calls the event a "staple of Colorado," but says that they'll see people from all over the country.

In 2018, REO Speedwagon is a headliner at the free music festival..

Chicago: Chicago Jazz Festival

This year's expanded Chicago Jazz Festival started August 24 with performances all over the city in various jazz venues and clubs. The main event is center stage in Millennium Park, where renowned jazz musician Ramsey Lewis, is slated to give his last performance.

This year's expanded Chicago Jazz Festival started August 24 with performances all over the city in various jazz venues and clubs. The main event is center stage in Millennium Park, where renowned jazz musician Ramsey Lewis, is slated to give his last performance.

Chicago Jazz Festival

Speaking of music, the Chicago Jazz Festival is a Labor Day tradition in the windy city. Mary May with City of Chicago's marketing and communications, anticipates about 150,000 in attendance throughout the big holiday weekend.

Technically, though, the festival kicked off last week with jazz venues and clubs around the city offering performances during the dog days of summer.

The Millennium Park portion of the festival — the main event — will feature food trucks and places to buy wine and beer, the ultimate jazz-listening accessories.

Brookfield, Missouri: Great Pershing Balloon Derby

In its 42nd year, the Great Pershing Balloon Derby is the longest running continuously sanctioned balloon event in the country. Balloons fly up to several thousand feet, offering views of Missouri's lush landscapes; cameras are encouraged.

In its 42nd year, the Great Pershing Balloon Derby is the longest running continuously sanctioned balloon event in the country. Balloons fly up to several thousand feet, offering views of Missouri's lush landscapes; cameras are encouraged.

John Petrehn/Great Pershing Balloon Derby

Another notable Midwest option is the Great Pershing Balloon Derby in Brookfield, Missouri. The schedule of events begins the Friday before Labor Day and continues throughout the long weekend. Balloon flights, 45 minutes to one hour, take place in the morning and in the evening, so long as winds don't go above 10 mph.

But the derby is about more than just balloons. Attendees can shop at craft vendors, fuel up at food trucks and search for flea market finds.

Amana, Iowa: The Festival of Iowa Beers

In Amana, one of seven villages in the Amana Colonies not too far from Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, tickets for this increasingly popular event are selling for $30. This buys guests a souvenir glass and unlimited samples. Designated drivers pay $15 for a glass and a range of tasty nonalcoholic options.

There will be a wide variety of beer on tap, and food vendors will be sprinkled throughout the grounds. Pulpit Rock Brewing out of Decorah, Iowa, will be in high demand, J Wilson, event organizer and 'minister of Iowa Beer' predicts.

Pomona, California: L.A. County Fair

Last but not least is the L.A. County Fair. The fair runs from late August to September 23, and opening weekend is Labor Day when The Commodores are the headliner event.

From Cirque Mechanics and Barnyard Racers to a stellar music line up, the fair is one the area's premier end-of-summer hits.

CNN

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