Saturday and Sunday, the Union Canal Park was the site of the 32nd annual Union Canal Days. Take a look at LebTown’s coverage of the event.

All photos by Emily Bixler

The Union Canal Days’ signature attractions—boat tours of the canal—were up in the air during the event’s planning due to the ongoing pandemic. However, the tours were permitted to operate at 75 percent capacity, or 15 people.

A guided boat tour of the Union Canal approaches the tunnel.

“Originally we thought we may not be able to have boat tours, so we were talking about narrated walking tours,” said Friends of the Union Canal Tunnel Park volunteer Howard MacFadden. “Then as the restrictions were decreasing, we were authorized to have boat tours up to 75 percent capacity.”

A Union Canal guided boat tour leaves the boarding area.

As in previous years, the Union Canal Days offered a gift basket raffle for visitors to try their hand at winning various products.

The raffle table at Union Canal Days.

While there were not as many vendors as in some previous years, local retailers including Royer’s Flowers, Behm’s Signs and Designs, and more local vendors who set up tents at the park.

A few of the tents set up for vendors at Union Canal Days.

Vendors set up an arrangement of products for guests to the Union Canal Days to browse. Don Edris of Iron Oak Creations even set up a blacksmithing area to work while he ran the stand.

Don Edris works at his tent during Union Canal Days. Edris also came to the 2019 event, but did not set up his forge that year.

“(My) working brings people over to watch,” Edris said. “That’s the other advantage working at an event like this, because people will come over to see what you’re doing.”

A few of the items available at the Iron Oak Creations tent.

While not offering as wide a range of food selections as in some years, the event still had food selections for visitors.

Shuman’s Concessions workers Wade Barrick (left) and Abigail Rosenberry (right) prepare food for customers.

The event also offered entertainment: Matt Dodd returned for the second year to perform his show “Matt Dodd Presents Songs and Stories of Old Canal Days,” in which he takes on the role of a 19th Century canal worker and explains the history of canals in the US.

Matt Dodd sings a jingle for his show. Dodd performed Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

“It takes a lot of research, because I want to become the character and be able to answer any of the questions that people have,” Dodd said about his performance.

Matt Dodd’s setup at Union Canal Days, including photos from the period, model canal boats, and musical instruments.

While the event was free, parking was $5 per vehicle, with proceeds going toward upkeep of the park.

The Union Canal Days parking area.

“[The Union Canal Days] is how we have money to make repairs to our equipment that maintains this beautiful park, all the fuel, all the tools that we need,” explained Friends of the Union Canal Tunnel Park volunteer Pete Silldorff.

Read More: Leading life at 83 full steam ahead – the many outdoors interests of Pete Silldorff

A path beside the Union Canal waterway.

“Lebanon County should really know and appreciate what we’ve been able to preserve here and maintain,” Silldorff said, noting that volunteers work on the park every Wednesday morning. “It’s an ongoing project with the most dedicated group of volunteers who have a great time working here, volunteering.”

Entrance to the Lost Mule Trail, a new trail added to the park this year as part of an Eagle Scout project.
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Emily Bixler was born and raised in Lebanon and now reports on local government. In her free time, she enjoys playing piano and going for hikes.