Canal Days: the port of choice for thousands this weekend

The Empire Sandy heads out on her last cruise of the weekend Monday. The ship was filled to capacity on almost every tour.

As the 40th annual Port Colborne Canal Days Marine Heritage Festival wrapped up Monday Aug. 6/2018 the City of Port Colborne is reflecting on the success of this year’s event.

“The word amazing doesn’t say enough about how this weekend has been,” said Port Colborne Mayor John Maloney on Monday after a morning cruise on the Empire Sandy.

The U.S. Brig Niagara was a favourite among Canal Days visitors, she set sail Monday afternoon and will return next year.

“It’s been a perfect weekend, the weather has held and the people were out in droves,” he said.

“The fireworks last night were spectacular, as they always are,” he said. “The Boat Parade of Lights was also a great hit last night.”

“They are going to have to go a long way to beat this one,” he said. “Everything went really well this year.”

This year there were a few changes in venues for some events. One such change was the concert series being held at H.H. Knoll Lakeview Park.

“We have not heard any criticisms about the concert facilities which seemed to handle higher numbers of people,” Maloney said.

Michelle Cuthbert, corporate communications officer for the City of Port Colborne was able to provide some numbers from the weekend.

“For Friday night, 54-40, we were over 7,000 people, for Blue Rodeo, we kind of had to slow people entering at 9,600,” Cuthbert said. “That doesn’t include people around the perimeter or people at Sugarloaf Marina.”

There were 164 volunteers helping out at the Port Colborne Historical and Marine Museum for Canal Days.

“Saturday and Sunday were both record days at the museum,” she said. “Saturday we had 1,852 visitors there, Sunday we had 2,145, there was 164 people who volunteered at the museum over the two days.”

“Roselawn had a record this year with over 400 people for the jazz concert, the craft show at the Vale Health and Wellness Centre had over 2,600 attendees Saturday.”

The total numbers of visitors to Port Colborne over the weekend weren’t tallied yet, but, Cuthbert said: “I tell people that we have between 300,000 and 400,000 over the weekend.”

“From what I saw I think we are on par with the higher of that estimate,” she said. “It’s just been a constant stream of people coming to the festival.”

“Each year we seem to have a record year, then the following year we break that record,” she said. “This year it looks like a record year again.”

Cuthbert mention that this year, they were having staff members do a survey with festival visitors.

“We will have a full report from that for council at a later date,” she said.

The work force behind the events success has always been the volunteers who help with all aspects of the festival.

“We really couldn’t do anything without the help of our army of volunteers,” Mayor Maloney said. “They all do an amazing job to make this the best festival of summer.”

One of the last events of the festival is the annual Port Colborne and District Conservation Club’s annual duck race.

The first prize of $2,500 cash was Diane Hockings. The second prize of $500 cash went to Christian Provia. The $400 cash third prize was won by Diane Cossette. Fourth prize of a $200 gift card from Boggio’s Pharmacy was won by Laurelle Burn. Fifth prize of a $200 Nature Lovers Gift Basket was won by Tony Breen.

The Port Colborne Marine Auxiliary Rescue, POCOMAR, had Mayor John Maloney draw the winning ticket for the draw Monday before the festival closed. Tony Zinatelli was the winner of $5,689.50.

The Port Colborne and District Conservation Club’s annual Duck Race always draws a crowd to watch.



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