The tale of two Tonawandas at Canal Fest

Posted at 6:21 PM, Jul 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-17 18:21:43-04

While folks lined up their chairs for a nice view of Tonight’s Canal Fest Parade, some businesses are locking up in North Tonawanda. 

Webster’s Bistro & Bar is one of those businesses. Barbara Hughes co-owns the North Tonawanda Restaurant. She’s actually closing for the night. 

“Tonight is the parade which changes the traffic patterns in the city. It’s very difficult to get to some of the businesses here. Many of us elect to close this evening,” Hughes said. 

Some shops and restaurants owners wouldn’t go on camera with 7 Eyewitness News, but they tell us the week-long festival is an inconvenience for their businesses. Many are even changing their hours of operation. 

The festival draws tens of thousands each year. However, some year-round business owners say they wished more visitors would patronize their shops and restaurants in stead of just walking by. 

On the other side of the canal in Tonawanda, it’s a different story for some. 

Luther Palmer is a cook at Mooney’s Restaurant on Main. During Canal Fest, he said it’s like Christmas for the business. 

“We’re normally busy all of the time. So you know when Canal Fest hits it’s more people. It helps us a little bit more,” Palmer said. 

Hughes said although the event might put some businesses at a disadvantage, it’s important to both communities. 

“It’s been a tradition here for many people. We work with it and with the various organizations that sponsors the Canal Fest,” the Webster’s co-owner said. 

But, could the festival shrink to less than 8 days in the future? That’s something organizers may look at. 

“It all depends on what the future board decides. It’s a lot of work and we hope that tradition keeps going,” Peter Chenier, Canal Fest President said. 

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