Tonawanda News — In past years, residents have packed the streets for Canal Fest, lining up for beer, funnel cakes and the annual parade. But this year, with temperatures reaching the 90s for much for the week, the crowds seemed thin.
“It’s a little hotter than we’d like,” Randy Fahs, a fest organizer, said. “Revenues do appear to be down.”
Irene Fronczak, who was working at the Our Lady of Czestochowa’s famous Polish sausage and pierogi stand, said she noticed the event’s decreased turnout this year.
“I think the heat has really lessened the crowd,” she said.
The stand, located halfway down Sweeney Street on the North Tonawanda side, has had lines all the way to Webster Street in the past, she said. But this summer, workers were able to handle the fest goers and a line rarely formed.
“People are tending to come later than they usually do, when it’s hot, but tolerable,” Fronczak said. “It’s still picking up around dinner time, though.”
Fahs said many of the other vendors he has talked to have also brought in less money.
“If we have a days of rain or heat, or if we have lose a key weekend day, it puts a dent it it,” he said.
Local weather guru Jack Kanack, who has a weather station at his home in North Tonawanda, said the high temperature was quite consistent throughout the week, starting out at 92 degrees Sunday, and then reaching 93 degrees Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. He recorded a high of 90 degrees Friday.
“What’s really remarkable are the lows,” he said. “On Wednesday, it was 76 degrees of a low overnight, Thursday it was 75.”
Kanack said the weather would finally cool off today, with a sunny high of 77.
“The humidity will be in the 50 percent range,” he said. “It is going to be refreshing.”
Fahs said he is hoping the cooler weekend will help increase profits for the many vendors who attend the fest each year.
“If you lose one of the closing weekend days with the craft show, there is no way to recover,” he said. “The attendance is so huge throughout Saturday and Sunday — not just the evening — so it has a big effect.”
He also pointed to other factors that could have led to a lower turnout at this year’s signature summer festival. This event marks the second time the City of Tonawanda has closed down its side at 10 p.m. instead of 11 p.m.
“The heat probably plays into that even more, because people might not want to come in at 5 or 6 p.m. because of the heat, but they’d be more likely to at night,” he said. “But now, with the earlier close, it kind of magnifies everything.”
The fest is also competing with other local summer events, Fahs said, like Friday’s Tragically Hip concert on the harbor and the Taste of Buffalo last weekend.
“Sales are down for a variety of reasons, but heat has had an impact,” he said.
Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter at @JessicaLBagleyContact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter at @JessicaLBagley