By CASEY CROUCHER
FORT HUNTER -- Roughly 1,000 people visited Fort Hunter Saturday for the annual Canal Days festival.
The two-day event, in its 31st year, 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 five-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 barbecued chicken, pieces of watermelon, melting ice cream cones, and smiles across their faces.
When asked what they liked 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 attended the festival since 2001 and they also come for the barbecued chicken.
"It's still a good time; there's good food and it gets us outside," Petersal said.
Toffolo added that the event is 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 for 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."