Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Mon, September 3 2012 at 9:41 PM, Updated: Mon, September 3 2012 at 10:15 PM
The sun was out, the water was cool and thousands of people flocked to the river bank in Grants Pass. Many of them, hoping to catch a glimpse of the 14 boats speeding up and down the river.
"I think they're cool because they go fast," said 10-year-old Tiana Rich.
Officials and spectators say the annual event has been a Grants Pass staple since the late-1950's. Today, it's still a hit.
"I've been coming for a really long time, since I was little," said Heather Campbell, who lives in northern California.
"We're optimistic our team is going to win," said Chris Henley, a Grants Pass resident.
The winner of the boat race will get some bragging rights, a trophy, and a cash prize of between $700-$1000.
However, for many spectators, it wasn't about the money.
"Being out here in the sun, Rogue River and all that is just wonderful," said Henley.
Meantime, people at the American Legion in Medford were also having a good time at their first ever chili cook off. Some of the pots had unique ingredients.
"I have half a bottle of crown royal, I have a bottle of beer. I've got four different kinds of beans," said Sherry Ely, who entered her chili into the contest.
But organizers said the event has a greater importance this Labor Day.
"There are a lot of veterans that [...] don't have jobs that need help [...] any veteran that comes in gets a free bowl of chili," said David Sorensen, Post Commander at the Medford American Legion.
Whether you spent your day chomping down on some cheesy chili, out on the river, or just hanging out in the warm weather, by all accounts, this Labor Day ended up being a pretty good one.
Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.
Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.
Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.
Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.