By CASEY CROUCHER
FT. HUNTER-- Roughly 1,000 people visited Fort Hunter Saturday for the annual Canal Days festival.
The two-day event, which has been going on for 31 years, was held at the Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site.
The festival was originally created to spread awareness about the Erie Canal and teach people of its importance, Schoharie Site Manager Janice Fontanella said.
“This event gives folks the opportunity to visit the site,” Fontanella said. “They learn about its importance to our area and they can also have a great time; any event where people learn is a good event in my opinion.”
Aside from the educational aspect of the festival, it also featured many different entertainment options for the young and old.
A mobile Utica Zoo featuring a tortoise, tarantula, snake and parrot made an appearance. There was also 5-hole disc golf, arts and crafts, horse-drawn wagon rides, a bounce house, shows from Pip Squeaks the clown and Jim Snack the magician, vendors and live musical performances by Sara Milonovich and Cosby Gibson with Tom Staudle.
Visitors could be seen walking around with plates of barbecue chicken, pieces of watermelon, melting ice cream cones and smiles plastered to their faces.
When asked what people liked the most about the festival many said they came for the chicken barbecue which was sponsored by the Friends of the Schoharie Crossing.
“My favorite part about today is the chicken,” Marjorie Savoie, vice president of the Friends of the Schoharie Crossing said through laughter. “It’s pretty good.”
Savoie said she also enjoys watching visitors have fun.
“The kids can walk around and there are so many activities they can do, I love watching them laugh,” she said. “And the older people always love the music and visiting the museum.”
Maria Toffolo and Paul Petersal said they’ve gone to the festival since 2001 and they also come for the barbecue chicken.
“It’s good chicken,” Petersal said. “It’s a nice event but it’s gotten smaller since we first started going.”
He said when the duo first started going to the festival it had a car show and other forms of entertainment.
“It’s still a good time; there’s good food and it gets us outside,” he said.
Toffolo added that the event was good for the community.
“People take this weekend as an opportunity to have garage sales and people coming here probably stop at their place to take a look at what they have,” she said.
Fontanella said every year the event accomplishes an important goal to her.
“During this event people always stop into the museum and ask some questions,” she said. “That means they’re curious and they want to learn and that’s what I want them to get from today: some knowledge, aside from some fun.”