The community staple New Haven Canal Days Festival will return June 4-8 with a mix of traditional favorites and new entertainment, though the fest is again plagued by a lack of funding.
This year's theme, “Faith and Family,” was inspired by the festival's headlining performance, Sidewalk Prophets – a national contemporary Christian music band. Without several thousands of dollars in profit this year, next year's festival will be "rocky," according to an organizer.
“We have a lot of churches here in New Haven that provide a foundation for our families,” said Beth Stauffer, chair of entertainment of the New Haven Canal Days Festival Committee. “We're trying to embrace that about our community.”
The festival began in 1958, though it has gone by many names and moved locations in its long history. After recovering from financial woes in 2009, the festival is again in critical need of funds, said Jon Stauffer, president of the festival committee. It has new sponsors for the festival that were attracted by the Christian music group performances. Overall, however, both the number and amount of sponsorships are “tremendously down.”
“Yeah, we bit off a bit more than we planned with the Sidewalk Prophets concert,” Jon Stauffer said. “It went above and beyond our usual spending.”
But he and committee members are hoping the upgrade in entertainment and concert staging pays off with larger crowds and generous giving in the donations at the concert.
He estimated an additional $5,000-$10,000 is needed on top of regular, expected revenue to put the festival in a good position for future years.
In its history, the festival has raised more than $145,000 that has gone directly back into the community. Past funding has gone toward a new tornado warning system, police bike patrol programs and a Lifepak cardiac defibrillator.
And while advertising is up this year and start-up costs are covered, Jon Stauffer said if funding doesn't come in next week, next year's fest could be very rocky.
“I hate to sound bleak about it, but it's the harsh truth,” he said.
While old favorites such as the annual parade are on the schedule, the festival has some new elements this year that organizers are hoping will draw large crowds.
The Canal Days car show and cruise-in return June 7, after it was cancelled last year due to interference with graduation. There will also be a new family magic show June 8 featuring local magician, The Great Andini.
The main new highlight is the evening concert June 8 that will feature contemporary Christian artists Love & The Outcome and the Sidewalk Prophets.
“It's been a longtime dream of mine to bring a faith and family act to the festival,” Beth Stauffer said.
Despite the financial challenges, Jon Stauffer said he's optimistic and is expecting a successful festival.
“This year we've had more advertising than we've ever had,” he said. “We have tremendous entertainment events like we've never had before. If we have a really good week with the midway, we could be in good shape for next year.”
All events are free, though food and crafts will be for sale from various vendors. Burton Brothers Amusements midway tickets and wristbands also vary in pricing, depending on date and time. VIP wristbands for the June 8 evening concert that will grant holders seating closer to the stage are available for $10 and can be purchased at the New Haven Parks Department office or at the event.
A number of road closings will be set up for the festival, namely Broadway Street, between Lincoln Highway and Park Avenue, from 7 a.m.Sunday- 5 p.m.June 9. Other nearby side streets will close.
• 6-8 p.m., Army Invades Schnelker Park
• 7-9 p.m., New Haven's Got Talent Show, Main Stage
• 8 p.m., Bulldog Beauty Pageant, Main Stage
• 9-11 p.m., Teen Rave, Gazebo
• 5-7 p.m., Open Mic Night, Gazebo
• 7-9 p.m., Urban Legends, Main Stage
• 9-11 p.m., Throwback Thursday dance, Gazebo
• 11:30 a.m., Senior Picnic, Schnelker Pavilion
• 5-9 p.m., Classic Car Cruise-In, New Haven High School, 1300 Green Rd.
• 10 p.m.-midnight, Movie in the Park
• 7:30-10 p.m., Spike & The Bulldogs, Main Stage
• 7:30 a.m., Canal Days 5K, Havenhurst Park
• 11 a.m., Canal Days Festival Parade
• noon-4 p.m., Kids Day, Schnelker Park pavilion
• 2:15-3:30 p.m., The Great Andini Family Magic Show, Main Stage
• 2:30–4:30 p.m., Joe Justice, Gazebo
• 4-6 p.m., Live 4:1 Band, Main Stage
• 5-7 p.m., The HitMen, Gazebo
• 6:30-7:30 p.m., Sweetcakes Comedy, Main Stage
• 8-8:15 p.m., Love & The Outcome, Main Stage
• 8:15-10:15 p.m., The Sidewalk Prophets, Main Stage
*Full calendar can be found at newhavencanaldays.me.
MIDWAY HOURS AND WRISTBAND PRICES
Tuesday- June 7 from 5-11 p.m., $15
June 8 from noon to midnight, $18 (from noon-4 p.m. during Kids Day wristbands are $10)
Tickets are $1 each
Blue sheets of 20 tickets for $18
Yellow sheets of 60 tickets for $50
Food tent and merchant area:
Wednesday–June 7 from 4-9 p.m.
June 8 from noon-9 p.m.
Arts and crafts:
Thursday–June 7 from 4-9 p.m.
June 8 from 9 a.m.-9 p.m.