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Canal Days needs community’s financial support

| May 22, 2015
Festival: The Coshocton Canal Festival Committee will be forced to cancel its August festival if enough money is not raised by Monday, June 8. Beacon file photo

Festival: The Coshocton Canal Festival Committee will be forced to cancel its August festival if enough money is not raised by Monday, June 8. Beacon file photo

COSHOCTON – A long standing Coshocton tradition is in danger of being canceled this summer.

If the Coshocton Canal Festival Committee doesn’t raise enough money by Monday, June 8, it will have to cancel the festival, which is schedule for Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 6-9.

“We are estimating we need between $4,000 and $5,000 and we still need about half,” said committee member Trish Wilson. “People’s donations will help with the parade costs.”

The canal festival started in 1970 and the queen contest in 1972. Most activities are held on the Coshocton County Court Square and all events are free to attend.

“It (the festival) has been in the hands of different organizations over the years but has been with our new group (Coshocton Canal Days Association) since 2014,” Wilson said. “The festival has a long tradition in Coshocton to celebrate our canal heritage. We are one of the last counties in Ohio that still has a hometown festival. If the festival is cancelled this year, no further plans for next year have been discussed at this point.”

Over the years the festival has been a big part of the lives of many community members including several of the committee members.

“I personally became involved in the Coshocton Canal Festival when I decided to compete for princess in 1998,” said Andrea Prouty. “Knowing nothing about the competition, it was a giant leap which rewarded me with a position on the court. Having enjoyed my time participating in the local events during my year as a princess attendant, I decided to run again in 1999 when I was eligible for the queen’s court. Unfortunately, I was not selected to the court that year, but it made me more determined to come back in 2000 and try again. You may ask why I would want to come back again to run for something when I was so devastated for not being selected the previous year. My answer is simple – the experience to broaden my speaking skills, develop new friendships, and encourage those across the state of Ohio to visit Coshocton and learn about our rich heritage. My hard work paid off when I was selected as the 2000 Coshocton Canal Festival Queen. The year of traveling around Ohio was an experience I will never forget.”

She now feels it’s important to give back to an organization and community that helped her become who she is today.

“Our family has been involved with the festival since 1998 and this past year it really came full circle when my younger sister was crowned the 2014 Coshocton Canal Festival Queen,” Prouty said. “She has been involved with the festival in one way or another since she was five months old attending her first competition. I have watched her change from a shy, little girl to an outgoing, ambitious ambassador for Coshocton; I believe this has a lot to do with her experiences through the Coshocton Canal Festival.”

She also believes the festival helps educate people about our community’s history.

“The Coshocton Canal Festival provides an outlet for families to partake in good, safe fun while educating the community and others about the impact the canal had on Coshocton and surrounding areas,” Prouty said. “Growing up, my family would tour Roscoe Village every summer, but I never really understood the impact the canal had on Coshocton until doing research for my queen competition speeches. Being able to continue the Coshocton Canal Festival through the support of our community with donations will enable us to further educate the community about our history. The Canal Festival is not only an educational event, but it is also a great opportunity to prepare our youth to be our next leaders. The festival committee leadership has been reorganized and those on the committee are excited to bring new ideas to the table in order to make the festival better than before. We know that businesses and individuals have many opportunities to support their community. The committee sincerely hopes they will consider donating to our event.”

Her mother Connie Johnson also helps plan the festival and believes it is important to the community for a number of reasons.

“I am old enough that I remember the very first Coshocton Canal Days Festival,” she said. “Even though I have always lived in Coshocton County, I never realized the importance of the canal until the festival started and I learned more about the history of the canal. The festival has always been a great way to celebrate this important part of Coshocton’s heritage. I have the privilege of being the mother of the 2000 Queen Andrea Johnson Prouty and the current 2014 Queen Amy Jo Johnson. I feel both my daughters have grown tremendously through their opportunities to represent Coshocton. Their self-confidence and public speaking abilities have been greatly enhanced by this experience, as well as their knowledge of not only Coshocton County, but the entire state of Ohio. Both girls have also learned the importance of community service. We need to remember that the youth of today will be the leaders of tomorrow and we need to give them opportunities to learn the skills needed to be the best leaders possible. The Coshocton Canal Festival Queen experience is a wonderful way to help give them that opportunity.”

Committee Member Diane Meek, who is in charge of the Canal Days Parade, feels canceling the festival would be a big loss to our community.

“The festival/parade has been around for so many years that it’s a part of our history and heritage,” she said. “It can be a conversation piece about how Coshocton started and how it’s grown over the years. My daughter Kassidy was the Canal Festival Bicentennial Queen and traveled all over Ohio. She was able to promote our county and make people aware of who we are, where we are and what we have to offer. I think the community would be disappointed to see the Canal Days celebration no longer exist.”

Like Prouty, committee member Amanda Meiser started her involvement with the festival when she ran for princess.

“I’ve been involved with the Canal Festival off and on since I was princess in 1986,” Meiser said. “Personally, my experiences with the festival and the traveling that I did representing Coshocton that year and when I was queen in 1990 had a big role in the life I lead today. I was a relatively shy little girl when I was chosen princess, but that year of traveling and interacting with queens from other festivals brought me out of my shell. As queen I traveled to 30 festivals around the state, and attended another dozen local events. My story is not unique; our royalty does this kind of thing every year. These girls are ambassadors for our community around the state. They promote Coshocton, Roscoe, the Canal Festival, as well as many other local events. Time and time again we hear other festival queens speak at their own festivals about how their trip to Coshocton and riding the canal boat was the highlight of their reigns. These are positive messages the people of Ohio are hearing about Coshocton. Businesses should be encouraged to support the festival because these girls will continue to spread the word about Coshocton around the state for as long as this court exists. Canal festival weekend is the perfect last weekend getaway for Ohio families before school starts. In addition, we would like to encourage local businesses and crafts people to help us grow the vendor population at the festival to get, and keep people in downtown Coshocton that weekend.”

Her own children also have been involved with the festival since 2009 when her oldest daughter Madelyn was chosen junior queen.

“One or the other or both of my girls has been on the court every year since, and my younger daughter Sophia is the current princess,” Amanda said. “I can’t tell you how many thousands of miles we have logged traveling in the last six years. I can’t put into words what a bonding experience that has been. But above all, I can’t possibly describe how invaluable this experience has been for them. Now they too are comfortable in front of a crowd, and that is a tremendous gift the festival has given them. They believe in the festival and want to see it live on.”

Amanda would hate to see the community lose this important celebration of its history.

“I feel like we owe this to Coshocton and to all the people who have come before us who have worked to make our rich heritage something we can still appreciate, enjoy, and celebrate yet today,” she said. “Our community was born from the boom of the canal era, and to forget that, to cease to honor that, is to let our history die. We are not as economically strong as we once were. But to rally together and save this festival is proof that Coshocton values its rich heritage. The Montgomerys rescued Roscoe from ruins; it’s time for our community to bring this festival back to life.”

Donations for the Coshocton Canal Festival can be sent to, 230 Main St., Coshocton, OH 43812 and checks can be made to Coshocton Canal Days Association.








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  1. Just a thought, maybe bringing back the Court Square Vendors & Shuttle will bring more money to our Community, also the Amusement Rides again.