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Final Weekend For Canal Fest

Canal Fest midway (photo by Dale Mussen)

For decades the dividing line between Erie and Niagara County has been the man-made Erie Canal.  Completed in 1825 it connected the Hudson River with Lake Erie to provide an inland route between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes.  The Erie Canal converted Buffalo from a sleepy outpost into a major American city making it possible to easily distribute products from Europe to the midwest and for raw materials from the midwest to be sent east.

The Erie Canal also created vibrant towns along the route to Buffalo.  Among those towns were Tonawanda and North Tonawanda.  At one time North Tonawanda was the largest lumber port in the world.  It’s why North Tonawanda’s nickname  is the Lumber City.

Canal Fest parade (photo by Dale Mussen)

Since 1983 the cities of  Tonawanda and North Tonawanda have celebrated their common heritage with the Canal Fest, a week-long festival of live music, good food, amusements, a parade, golf tournament, car show,  a four-mile run and this weekend it concludes with an outdoor arts & crafts show both Saturday and Sunday. 

What’s really unique about the Canal Fest is you can use your boat to get there.  Whether you’re coming from anywhere along Lake Erie or the Niagara River or any point along the Erie Canal you can cruise the Canal Fest and dock on either side of the canal.  Sometimes the boats are docked four-deep along the canal wall and you have to step across other boats to get to the dock.  It creates a brotherhood of boaters there to celebrate a common passion. 

The 29th annual Canal Fest concludes Sunday night with fireworks.  It’s an annual rite of summer in the northtowns and it’s just amazing how quickly the week flies by

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