DELPHI — Though the weekend promises to bring hot temperatures, that won’t stop Beth Erwin, a crafter and festival coordinator, from heartily greeting Canal Days festival attendees in her period-piece costume.
Erwin has a three-layered cotton outfit, though she says she might only wear two. She will appear along with fellow crafters, food vendors, musicians and historians for this weekend’s Canal Days in Delphi at Canal Park. The purpose of the festival is to celebrate the Wabash and Erie canal, which was a major source of transit and economic development from 1840 to 1874.
This year’s festival will include 17 food vendors and artists, featuring goods such as wooden toys, handmade purses and metal lawn ornaments. Sunday attendees will also be able to witness an American flag show featuring 17 historic flags. The flags will also be on display Saturday.
The festival will feature live music on both days from hammered dulcimer player Ted Yoder and Don Roberson and his band.
Dan McCain, president of the canal board, said the festival, which he estimates has taken place for the past 20 to 25 years, increases the number of visitors in Delphi, while teaching them about the canal’s history.
“It’s a good draw for economic development,” McCain said. “It’s a good excuse to celebrate the canal itself. We celebrate the canal, of course, on a weekly basis”
Last year’s festival drew a crowd of as many as 3,000 people, McCain said.
The canal used to be “king” in Delphi, McCain said, as it brought at least five new industries to the town in the 1800s. It also served as the only means of mass transit for workers building the railroad and offered a route from Delphi to New York City.
To celebrate the canal’s history, a blacksmith will be demonstrating his craft, and the school master will teach festival attendees about the history of the one-room schoolhouse.