For the first time in its 26 year history, Newburgh’s Canal Bash will be organized by someone other than Rock Doyle.
The outdoor winter festival’s founder handed the reins of the Feb. 16 event over to Derek Godfrey, who will oversee this year’s program. Festival attendees need not worry however as the event will still feature all the staples: pancake breakfast, skating on the canal, wagon rides, chili, hotdogs, kids hockey tournament, bonfire, fireworks and of course, canal tails.
And while Doyle may not be the lead organizer for the first time in 25 years, he’s still kept up his role of keeping the Factory Street canal ice pristine for skaters and pond hockey players throughout the winter.
“He had a long run,” Godfrey said of Doyle. “Mike Fitzpatrick, he’s done a lot too and he’s still continuing with the breakfast to raise money for Newburgh Softball. Rick still does a great job looking after the canal for us.”
From its humble beginnings, Canal Bash has grown into one of the premier events on the village’s calendar. It’s grown to the point where its become a second and even third generation tradition for some families. For others its an opportunity to return to the village after having left for a few years.
“There’s a lot of people who haven’t been here in years,” said Godfrey. “They’ll miss four or five years, their kids were too young maybe. All of a sudden they’ll show up with the kids able to skate and it’s good to see.”
Activities will take place on the canal, Newburgh Park, the fire hall as well as the Newburgh Community Hall.
As with any outdoor event in the middle of February, it’s very weather dependant. Godfrey, who has helped out with the event for several years as a member of the Stone Mills Fire Department, has seen it all.
“The year before last year was -40 and our turn out was very poor, we couldn’t even keep our mustard and relish from freezing,” he recalled.
Through it all however the tradition has continued and it still thrives over a quarter of a century later.
“The support we continue to get from corporate and local businesses has been really good. It continues to grow every year,” said Godfrey.
Also making the event possible are a number of high school students who volunteer their time.
“It just lends to getting out and being involved in the community,” said Godfrey.
Teams can still register for the IP-Atom hockey tournament for kids between the ages of five and nine. Registration can be done by emailing MMThompson@live.ca. The annual chili cook-off will also return to the Newburgh Fire Hall. Anyone looking to enter that contest can email RMyers321@hotmail.com.
A complete schedule as well as a list of the event’s sponsors can be found at www.CanalBash.ca.