Tonawanda News — Police in the City of Tonawanda say the decision to close Canal Fest an hour earlier this year has meant fewer arrests at the area’s longest festival, while others say the lost time has resulted in a sharp decline in vendors’ profits.
Ride operator Les “Corky” Powers, owner of the Powers Great American Midway, stated that he would lose a third of his overall ride revenue when the decision was made earlier this year to close the event on the city side at 10 p.m., rather than 11 p.m.
Around the same time, City of Tonawanda Police Chief John Ivancic told the city council that security concerns prompted each year by unruly young people during the event’s final hour necessitated the move.
”The numbers don’t lie,” Ivancic said late Friday from the police command post near the midway.
He said last year police made 22 arrests in the first five days of Canal Fest, as compared to this year’s eight.
”Obviously it has helped. I think it helps us to try and keep things on an even keel. There’s less time for tempers to flair,” he said.
Ivancic said last year, 11 of the first 13 arrests over the initial three days of Canal Fest were classified as disturbance calls (for things like disorderly conduct) and that just four out of seven over the first three days this year were similar in nature.
But Rae Proefrock of the Carrousel Society of the Niagara Frontier, whose community organization sponsors and receives revenue from the popular rides, said vendors who have set up shop for decades in and around the midway are reporting revenues are down between 20 percent and 50 percent.
”Everyone is being hurt by this,” she said.
Food revenues following Tuesday’s parade were especially low, she said, as crowds gathered to watch the event began dispersing at its conclusion around 8:30 or 8:45 p.m. rather than lingering into the night.