After being cancelled altogether in 2020 and having fewer attractions in 2021 due to COVID-19, the 33rd annual Union Canal Days saw a larger turnout.

Saturday, May 21, was clear, and Sunday was sunny up until around 4 p.m. The event ended at 5 p.m.

The entrance to the Union Canal tunnel, Sunday afternoon.

“We’re very pleased, we’ve had actually cooperation from the weather this year,” Friends of the Union Canal Tunnel Park volunteer Ed Martel said on Sunday. “I would say we’re going to be ahead of pace of where we were last year, it probably won’t be our best ever, but I think it’s going to be a pretty solid year for us.”

Narrated boat tours were able to operate at full capacity this year (20 people per boat), while last year they could only operate at 75 percent capacity. Every boat ride — nine on Saturday and eight on Sunday — was full.

A narrated tour of the Union Canal Tunnel.

“We’ve actually had more boat riders in the last two days than we had last year,” said Martel. “I think some of that is coming out of the pandemic, people are anxious to get out and about.”

While exact attendance is hard to calculate, Friends of the Union Canal Tunnel Park volunteer Pam Tricamo noted that 150 cars passed through on Saturday and 125 on Sunday. Parking was $5 per vehicle.

Various vendors were set up selling food or other goods in tents or food trucks.

Food trucks lined up in the Union Canal parking lot.

The annual Union Canal Days is a major source of funding for the Friends of the Union Canal Tunnel Park. The organization has year-long expenses related to park upkeep and development.

Raffle boxes set up at the Union Canal Days. Baskets are donated by local businesses and proceeds go toward park upkeep.

Volunteers meet in a working group every Wednesday to work on trash pickup, path clearing and more. As Martel emphasized, the group is always looking for volunteers.

“I’ll tell you, the hardest part for us is getting volunteers to help run the event, whether it’s to crew the boats or simply do maintenance in the park,” Martel explained. “We have a very limited amount of volunteers so it’s a lot of hours that those folks put in to be able to make this work.”

For those who missed this year’s Union Canal Days or just couldn’t get a spot on one of the boat tours, the Friends of the Union Canal also hold narrated boat tours starting at 12:30 p.m. the first three Sundays of each month from June to September.

Read More: There’s nothing like Union Canal Tunnel Park on a brisk autumn day

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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.