Canal Fest of the Tonawandas returned this week for the first time in years, and while everyone was excited to see a Western New York staple return to in-person celebrations, there are a few people that didn’t exactly enjoy the festival this year.

Canal Fest is held in North Tonawanda, typically every year, though the pandemic gave the festival some challenges. This year, we learned that the large parade, a highlight of Canal Fest, was canceled due to budgeting constraints, according to the Canal Fest Vice President. These budgeting constraints are a result of “closing roads, police overtime and insurance” still costs money. 

Honestly, it’s just nice to have the festival back. They always have a variety of food, music, rides and nightly events, and the Bike Cruise draws nearly 3000 motorcycles from Western New York and surrounding states.

However, some people were not exactly…satisfied, with this year’s festival. At least with the July 21 portion. 

Photo Credit: Public Facebook Thread
Photo Credit: Public Facebook Thread

“So all of the adult rides are gone. No parade this year. Food joints are severely overpriced. Tim Horton's is locked up. So everything on the tonawanda side of the canal other than the car show tonight is a complete waste of time.  Great job Tonawanda,” community member Carl Rolfe said. 

Kind of a little harsh, especially when they’re just getting back into the swing of things following the pandemic. 

Rolfe got some heat on his Facebook post, before turning off the comments. 

One community member, Wendy Coyde, responded by saying “Shame on some of you for slamming the carnies and lumping them all into a “bad” group. Most are very respectful and patronize our businesses and booths while they are here AND SOME ARE OUR OWN HOMETOWN PEOPLE JUST WORKING FOR A LITTLE SIDE CASH. I hate when someone groups everyone together and slams them WITHOUT KNOWING THEM PERSONALLY. That’s exactly what wrong with this world…

It may not be the Canal Fest we remember, but it’s on its way back. Personally, I commend the Canal Fest team for trying to bring back a festival that is one of the highlights of a Western New York summer. 

Canal Fest of the Tonawandas is happening through July 24.

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