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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette ABOVE: Duncan Cales, 3, enjoys the Canal Days Parade with his father Saturday in New Haven.

  • Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette People attend the Canal Days Festival in New Haven on Saturday.

  • A space-themed float was among the entries in Saturday’s parade.

  • People walk along the many food booths during the Canal Days Festival in New Haven on Saturday.

Sunday, June 09, 2019 1:00 am

Canal Days 'brings generations together'

ROSA SALTER RODRIGUEZ | The Journal Gazette

NEW HAVEN – Welcome to New Haven's favorite take-out place.

On Saturday, that would have been Canal Days.

On the last afternoon of its 2019 run, the festival's food alley was doing brisk business.

In steak-tip dinners, sausage rolls, tenderloin sandwiches, Wisconsin cheese curds, black raspberry pie, apple cobblers and cream – and broiled chicken, across a big barbecue pit where the smoke from hot coals wafted a tantalizing aroma across Schnelker Memorial Park. 

Folks lined up, with some sitting down at picnic tables and others finding a spot in the food tent, dubbed “Canal Eatery” for the festival.

Julie Szilagyi, 59, of New Haven, who said she's been coming to the festival “for decades,” was waiting for an order of curly fries.

“They have excellent curly fries. I come every year to get curly fries,” she said. “I usually get them with cheese, but I'm trying to watch my calories, so I ordered them without. I figure if I don't have cheese, I won't eat cheese.”

When a plate of sizzling-hot fries arrived, Szilagyi wasn't too upset she couldn't dig right it.

“I'm taking them home,” she said.

At Whistle Stop, Jasmine Garrison, visiting from Marion, was waiting for a to-go steak sandwich – and other orders she'd been asked to take home to relatives.

Despite a cool breeze and a temperature in the upper 70s, Garrison said her family thought it was too hot for festival-gnoshing. “They sent me,” the 23-year-old said. 

Fort Wayne residents Carrie McKenney, 47, with her husband, Rich, 46, sat at a picnic table while their grandchildren – Honor McNeal, 7, and her brother Asher, 3 – finished up slushies.

The family came mostly for the rides during one of the few occasions when New Haven's downtown skyline includes a Ferris wheel.

The children didn't go on that ride, but they did sample the roller coaster and the dragon ride – “and all the little kid rides,” Carrie McKenney said.

She said she's been coming to the festival ever since she was a child. “I remember it being much smaller. Now it's much bigger, and I like how it's spread out,” she said.

“I think it's great for the kids because it gets them outside. Too many of them are inside and not outside playing,” she said, noting that's only one reason she returns.

Is the other reason the food? Not quite.

McKenney said she likes Canal Days because “it brings the generations together.” 

rsalter@jg.net