The annual Saltsburg Canal Days started in 1981 as an act of preservation. As the story goes, a local organization wished to salvage a tract of the old canal which ran through town. It had been filled in by railroad companies and had since been sold back to the town. The fear was that the land would simply be partitioned off to private buyers and the canal’s legacy buried beneath would be lost forever. In a testament to community willpower and good ole fashion caring, volunteers worked tirelessly to save the land and restore the canal to it’s now pristine footpaths and walkways that are enjoyed to this day. Canal Days was born out of that bid to safeguard history and today the festival expertly maintains the tradition of celebrating the town’s rich heritage.
Canal Days is equal parts celebration for today’s Saltsburg, and the history of yesterday’s Saltsburg. So on the one hand there are tours of the Stone House Museum and walking tours the town’s historic district. On the other hand, the local herb society hosts a perennials plant sale. On the one hand, time period actors from the Victorian age roam the streets and Civil War re-enactors from the Carpenter Battery camp on the festival outskirts. On the other hand, a lovely quilt show is held at the local middle school. In this way, the festival is a symbiotic relation between the history from which Saltsburg was birthed and the state of the town today. All this mixing of caring for history and just celebrating today is the epitome of what makes a festival of this style so great, and Canal Days has plenty of it.
At Canal Days entertainment is tops on the agenda. Fun activities the likes of karaoke, street clowns, magicians, and balloon artists are not uncommon. Live music – usually classic rock or polka – is played at the main stage all weekend. A very pleasant parade marches through town on Saturday. Ending the festival is the always anticipated and very popular Duck Race. The person whose duck crosses the finish first wins a large cash prize. It is actually a lot of fun. The night before the Duck Race, Saturday night, is the fireworks show. In the embrace of a town that is wrapped in itself, wrapped in a park, it is a warming and wonderful show.
Admission and parking is free.