After the Erie Canal lost much of its economic importance, small towns
on its border desperately searched for ways to keep alive. Many hit on tourism
, using flatboats to bring vacationers up and down the length of Upstate New York. Eventually, the tradition of Canal Days emerged. If one takes a vacation in late spring and early summer in WNY, it is impossible to miss signs proclaiming local Canal Days, with food, arts, and entertainment
One of the largest and most reknowned Canal Day celebrations occurrs in the small town of Fairport, about 30 minutes from downtown Rochester. The entire main street and several side streets are shut to traffic, becoming great walk ways for thousands of people. There are several bands in different parts of the town, incredible quantities of food and hundreds of art vendors, selling everything from little figures made out of spun sugar, to magnificent oil paintings. The celebration is in the first weekend of June and is concluded with a tremendous fireworks display, a feature added in Canal Days 2002. In all, it is an old fashioned fair, one that transports you back to America's small town past.
If one is interested in making the journey to Fairport, there are other attractions, such as the famous Lift Bridge, which once featured on Ripley's Believe It Or Not, on account that there are no congruent angles in the entire structure. There are many lovely bed and breakfasts, and the town is an ideal jumping off point for studying Rochester's rich history or the Finger Lakes wine country. As someone who has lived in Fairport, I recommend taking the canal path by bicycle, as it winds through some interesting scenery, and watching the fireworks on the bridge a block down from Main Street.