1,500 farmworkers and families swamp CIW headquarters for annual Year of the Worker Party; Workers’ Voice Tour art production in full swing!

Crowds of farmworker families enjoying the annual Year of the Worker Party last Sunday, Feb. 21
Crowds of farmworker families enjoying the annual Year of the Worker Party last Sunday, Feb. 21

In final week before Workers’ Voice Tour, CIW members and allies in Immokalee prepare to take fight for farmworker justice to Wendy’s doorstep…

In Immokalee, you can mark your late February calendar by two annual events.  One is the Year of the Worker Party, the largest and longest-running of the CIW’s community events, celebrating Immokalee’s vision of a more humane agricultural industry, its two-decade-long struggle for fundamental human rights, at the height of the tomato season each year.  The other is the arrival of expert painters, carpenters and puppeteers from across the country to work alongside farmworkers in the production of the unique artwork deployed in the Campaign for Fair Food’s huge spring actions every year since 2001.  And this past weekend, the two annual highlights came together to make one beautiful Sunday afternoon!

The hard work of painting and building brand-new banners, cardboard signs and 15-foot puppets for next week’s Workers’ Voice Tour started a week ahead of Sunday’s Gran Fiesta, in fact…


… the product an abundance of colorful art ready to convey the Fair Food Nation’s message of food justice next week in cities from New York to Columbus and Palm Beach:


During that same week, CIW members hit the streets of Immokalee with flyers in hand, knocking on doors all over town to invite farmworkers and their families to the February 21st festivities — which, with five live bands, internationally-known comedian and former Despierta America host Fernando Arau, and gorgeous weather predictions, promised to be a great day for Immokalee families.  And indeed it was!


The day was full of great live music, delicious food, and fun for children and parents alike…



… and of course, the programming was peppered with invitations to join the upcoming tour.  Following his hour-long routine, which drew wave after wave of laughter, comedian Fernando Arau (below) added his own call to action for the audience:


“It’s time to go on the tour!  From March 2nd to the 12th, we need you all to join the march, to protest, because we have to win — one more time — against Wendy’s.  They have to sign an actual agreement.  Many of you — many workers — are enjoying rights and privileges that have been fought for before your time, that others before you have fought to bring about.  Now, it’s time for you to take up the fight.  How?  By joining the tour!  It is a campaign where we will come out victorious, why?  Because we are the Coalition!”

To which the crowd, in true CIW fashion, responded, “Presente!”

Shortly thereafter, the excited audience was given a sneak peak at the freshly-dried tour puppets (with assistance from the hard-working artists themselves and some of the young’uns in the crowd):



Now, we don’t want to give too much away, as these puppets — and the mountains of other beautiful artwork — will be featured in CIW’s brand-new community theater piece made especially for the Workers’ Voice Tour.  The theater piece will debut in New York City on March 3rd… so stay tuned!

Between all this gorgeous artwork and the sky-high anticipation around the Workers’ Voice Tour in the wake of last weekend’s block party, the Workers’ Voice Tour is already off to an amazing start.  We hope to see you there!