TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — A popular event won’t be returning to the Tonawandas this summer. Canal Fest is canceled.

With fewer vendors and volunteers, organizers say putting the event together has been challenging. They’re hoping by taking the year off, the event can return better than ever next summer.

“Well money is always a challenge. Our budget keeps going up and up and our sponsors keep going down so it’s very difficult to raise enough money,” Vice President of Canal Fest Rick Maier. “Oh, jeeze there’s a thousand different challenges.”

The organizers of the annual event spanning Tonawanda and North Tonawanda announced that they’re taking the year off to “rebrand and restructure.”

“I think this is an opportunity to reset, reorganize and for us to make the Canal Fest bigger and better next year and for many years to come,” said North Tonawanda mayor Austin Tylec.

Greg Stennis, who owns Dwyer’s Pub on Webster street, says the eight day festival draws in tens of thousands of people to the area, and it’s great for business.

“It brings so much more revenue to small businesses in this area. Not all though, so I understand that there’s people who love it and people who don’t, but it is a huge influx of people who don’t usually come to the Tonawandas,” he said. “It’ll definitely be a less stressful week for me and my staff but I think we’re going to miss it again.”

Next year will be the 40th celebration.

“Exciting new events, attractions, and entertainment plans are being made now to make
the 40th CANAL FEST like no other you’ve ever seen,” a news release from Canal Fest organizers read. “But like anything else we now call normal, they all take a bit longer to put into motion.”

The 2024 event will take place from July 14-21.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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