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Nonprofits find funding at Canal Fest

For the past 24 years, Canal Fest has offered more than just carnival treats, a view of the water and a chance to see old friends.

For many nonprofit groups, the annual event in the cities of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda means a chance at ensuring good work will continue in those communities. Now entering its 25th year, the eight-day event is organized by Canal Fest of the Tonawandas Inc. -- itself a nonprofit organization.

Groups including churches, scout troops and others give organizers about 9 percent of their net profits from the event, according to Larry Denef, president of Canal Fest of the Tonawandas.

More than 50 groups become food and beverage vendors to raise money during the event, which begins Sunday along the border of the Twin Cities.

The event footprint extends on Sweeney Street between Main and Webster streets in North Tonawanda, as well as on Young and Niagara streets in Tonawanda.

About 700 volunteers are expected to donate their time during Canal Fest, Denef said.

Rae Proefrock, a trustee of the Carrousel Society of the Niagara Frontier, said the fundraising opportunity afforded through Canal Fest means a lot to her group.

In exchange for selling presale tickets for the midway, coordinating with the ride operator and monitoring the midway during the event, the Carrousel Society receives a donation equivalent to between 20 and 25 percent of its annual budget.

Two Boys and Girls Clubs in the Tonawandas will benefit from the proceeds of the Tim Frank Memorial Canal Fest 4 Miler.

The Gilmore School site in North Tonawanda and Franklin Street site in Tonawanda receive a total of about $10,000, mostly through race sponsorships, said Jeffrey Hardy, race director.

The annual race will be held Thursday. Participants can preregister at and can also register the day of the race.

One of the new events this year is the Canal Fest Music Extravaganza, a performance by several drum and bugle corps at 1 p.m. Sunday.

For more information on Canal Fest, visit


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