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Monday, July 27, 2015

Canal Days Marine Heritage Festival highlighted by tall ships, fireworks in Port Colborne

   One-Tank Trip for July 25-15

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Tall ships are a comin’ to the Canal Days Marine Heritage Festival in Port Colborne.
   The big party of the summer rolls into the port city from July 31 to Aug. 3 with a chance to sail on the tall ship Empire Sandy.
   “This is our 37th annual celebration of our community’s marine heritage along the shores of Niagara’s South Coast,” said Mayor John Maloney.
Visitors of the Canal Days Marine Heritage Festival can book passage on the tall ship Empire Sandy.
   Nestled at the juncture of the Welland Canal and the Lake Erie north shore, the community has a rich nautical history with its connection to the St. Lawrence Seaway and the seafaring world.
  “The festival encompasses the entire community, with activities at a dozen different venues,” said Robyn Wilcox, Port Colborne cultural engagement coordinator.

   Welcome aboard
   Festival visitors can explore the decks, try their hand at the wheel and feel the spray as they cruise on a tall ship.
   Empire Sandy leaves her berth in Toronto giving harbour and Lake Ontario cruises for a sailing through the Welland Canal.
   This topsail schooner, built in 1943 for up to 275 passengers, has double cannons fired on special occasions.
  Midway rides including a ferris wheel will be at the Canal Days festival. (Photo by Stephen Curtiss)
   Sailing options include morning and afternoon cruises on Lake Erie, an evening sunset cruise and dinner cruises.
   The Sunday dinner cruise has the best seats in the house for the fireworks celebration.
   Boarding this year is in Port Dalhousie with a shuttle to and from Port Colborne for canal cruise ticket holders.
   The canal passes directly through Port Colborne’s downtown where visitors can “find an impressive array of special guests: tall ships, Coast Guard vessels, a working fire boat” and other ships along the wall at historic West Street, Wilcox said.
   Many of the ships are open for public viewing and meeting with the crews who also compete in marine challenges.
The fire boat Edward M. Cotter from the Buffalo Fire Department will be at the Canal Days fest.
   Making a special appearance will be the fire boat Edward M. Cotter from the Buffalo Fire Department.
   Built in 1900, the ship was called to travel across the lake to Port Colborne on Oct. 7, 1960 to help put out a raging fire in the eight-storey Maple Leaf Mills plant.
   The Port Colborne Historical and Marine Museum has displays of the history of the canal connecting Lake Ontario and Lake Erie that allows ships to pass between the lakes and avoid “going over Niagara Falls.”

   All around town
   Festival activities are spread out with H.H. Knoll Lakeview Park hosting an outdoor classic car and international kite show.
   Seaway Park children’s area has games, entertainment and activities while on Saturday, the Roselawn Centre offers a day of live jazz.
Jazz is part of the festival
    Festival-goers can ride the free Canal Days shuttle to the Vale Health & Wellness Centre where the indoor craft show is held.
   West Street will be home to various food and retail vendors, tall ships along the canal and the Sunday night boat parade of lights and fireworks.
   “From classic Canadian poutine to blooming onions, Italian dishes, sugary treats and everything in between, West Street has all of your go-to festival foods covered,” Wilcox said.
   Local artisans and retailers with have “interesting and unique items,” and then relax with a cold drink at the Patio on West,” she added.
A highlight of the festival is fireworks over the Welland Canal and Lake Erie. (Photo by Stephen Curtiss)
   When the sun goes down, the fun begins at Market Square with concerts, featuring I Mother Earth, Junk House and Step Echo on Friday.
   Saturday will feature Big Wreck, Royal Tusk and Black Collar Union while Sunday has an all-country line-up. Closing out the fest on Civic Holiday Monday (Aug. 3) are the Caveners and Tim Hendry.
   Whisky Run Golf Course is challenging visitors to hit a golf ball across the Welland Canal to raise money for charity and win prizes on Friday, Saturday and Monday.
   Boat trips will be given from Sugarloaf Marina for lighthouse tours.

Golfers will be challenged to get their ball across the Welland Canal at the festival. (Photo by Stephen Curtiss)
   If you go:
   Admission is free and the festival is open on Friday from noon to 12:30 a.m.; Saturday, 8:30 a.m. for a 5K run to 12:30 a.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m. for a mountain bike race until after the 10 p.m. fireworks; and Monday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
   No pets are allowed except for service animals and it is a smoke-free event.
   Details: canaldays.ca; 1-888-PORT-FUN


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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