The Rideau Canal is being celebrated once again at this year’s Canal Fest in Merrickville. The festival, which has been running for over 20 years, is spearheaded by the Lions Club and celebrates the beauty and history of the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage site. “It’s a community event which has passed through many hands,” says Steve Hurndell, Chair of this year’s Canal Fest.
There will be lots happening over the weekend of August 4/5 in the Blockhouse Park. History will be at the forefront, with 18th century naval boats tied up along the lock wall, and French colonial soldiers (1740-1760) parading around in period costume. The Town Crier will be there with one of his old boats on display. There will also be a small artisan craft show as part of the festivities, and a display of antique cars courtesy of the European & British Classic Car Show, which is set for September.
Parks Canada will be playing a role in this year’s festival by running a two-day symposium on paddling techniques on the Canal. A blacksmith from the historic blacksmith’s shop in Jones Falls will also be on hand for demonstrations.
Activities and entertainment for kids will be available all throughout the weekend, starting with Dr. FourFace Science and Variety Show at 10:00 am on Saturday. At 10:00 am on Sunday, another kid’s entertainer, Lee Serviss, will be on the main stage. The Bug Lady will be around on both days to provide nature education to the children; and face painting and other games will be running. Steve says it will definitely be a family-friendly event.
The Mayor and Town Crier will be on hand on Saturday at 12:45pm to officially open the festival. Steve says that organisers are going to try and find somewhere for the re-enactors to fire their muskets to signify the start of the weekend. The opening ceremonies will be followed by music from local four-piece band, K-town, in the afternoon. The music will continue on Sunday, with the Andrew James Review, and swing band, Django Fet.
“We’re a heritage site, and it’s important that we give as much homage to the Canal as possible,” Steve says. Canal Fest runs in the Blockhouse Park from 10:00am to 5:00pm. Admission is free.