LOCKPORT – Despite you what might expect from the name, Locktoberfest is not unique to Lockport.
The third annual event celebrating the approaching end of the Erie Canal navigation season, set for Saturday in downtown Lockport, was started in the Lock City, but it hasn’t remained there.
“Lockport’s Locktoberfest is one of four or five other Locktoberfests around the state,” said David R. Kinyon, president of the Lockport Locks Heritage District Corp. “Lockport was really the trial balloon.”
The event started in 2014 as a set of activities surrounding the dedication of the reopened Flight of Five, the 19th century canal locks. Two of the five have been returned to working order, and their opening in 2014 was the reason the New York State Canal Corp. set up Locktoberfest.
Now, it seems anyplace with a set of locks can have a Locktoberfest. The Canal Corp. website lists events with the same name in Rome, Phoenix, Seneca Falls and Fort Edward.
“We knew Lockport didn’t have ownership from the start,” Kinyon said. The Canal Corp., I Love New York and Taste New York are still listed as sponsors, but the main work is being undertaken by locals.
Last year, it’s believed about 1,000 people came to Locktoberfest, based on a comparison of Lockport Community Market sales with prior weeks. “I’m hoping that we’re going to double that this year,” said Heather B. Peck, vice president of the Greater Lockport Development Corp.
Thus, the schedule of events Saturday is being expanded beyond previous years. “Instead of ending at 5, we’re extending the entertainment until 7 p.m.,” Kinyon said.
Everything starts at 9 a.m., when the weekly Community Market opens on Canal Street, beside the locks. The entertainment begins at that hour with “Magic by Tony,” but starting at 10, it’ll be music all day long on the city stage, to be set up in the Erie Canal Discovery Center parking lot off Canal Street.
“That whole parking lot will be blocked off,” Peck said. “We want to make it a festival atmosphere.”
The lineup begins with the Outofar Trio Jug Band, followed at 11 a.m. by Celtic Cross. At noon it’s the Old Hippies, followed by Doc Stockton & Pocket Change at 1 p.m. The Skiffle Minstrels will perform their blend of country and swing music from 2 to 4 p.m.
At 4 p.m., a lock tender reception will honor more than 100 volunteers who worked during the tourist season at the locks. Then the Heenan Brothers will play until 5 p.m., to be followed by another local band, the Teasers, offering a combination of pop and soft rock.
But music isn’t everything at Locktoberfest. “I think we have some really nice children’s activities. Kathy O’Keefe of Windsor Village is sponsoring that. She’s some up with some great children’s games,” Peck said.
Children’s activities in the Canal Street gazebo from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. include the canal diggers’ gem hunt, millpond fishing, Cold Springs Fountain, and lift bridge golf. Also on hand will be Sal the Mule, whose presence will remind visitors of the far-off days when mules towed boats along the canal. Sal is sponsored by the Lockport Lions Club.
A costumed re-enactment of a late 1890s photograph of canal workers, posed on the stone steps beside the locks, also will be part of the day. The Locks District Heritage Corp. aims to have Youngstown sculptor Susan Geissler cast bronze figures duplicating the canal workers. However, that might cost about $1 million.
Speaking of canal work, the weekly demonstrations at the two restored locks in the Flight of Five will be presented for the last time this year. Normally open from 10 to noon, the demonstrations will be extended to 2 p.m. for Locktoberfest.
Food and drink will be plentiful all day long. A crew from Lock 34 Bar & Grill will serve Western New York craft beers. Wines will be poured by Niagara Wine Trail member wineries, and several food trucks, including Lloyd Taco Truck, will be parked in the parking lot. The wine and beer sales will be under tents, and a wristband system will be used to prevent underage drinking, Peck said.
Except for the food and beverages, all the activities are free.