By Matthew Saari

Skenesborough Park will be the place to be next weekend.

The annual Whitehall Canal Festival, now in its 35th year, will kick off at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 6. This staple of the Whitehall community marks the beginning of summer with a variety of activities for all ages.

The event begins with the ever-popular Cake Booth, where festival-goers place a wager on their lucky number and a roulette wheel is spun – if Lady Luck is with you and it lands on your number, you win a cake.

“We had a lot last year,” said Carol Greenough, member of the Canal Festival committee. “People were really enthusiastic.”

Inside the picnic shelter, Skene Manor volunteers will be cooking up fried bread dough while other vendors will be hawking other victuals as well as beverages to quench one’s thirst.

“On both days there will be children’s games, cotton candy and popcorn too,” Greenough said.

The food and games run until 9 p.m. on Friday.

Live music will be provided at 7 p.m. by the Steel Pier Jazz Band, which is returning for the fourth consecutive year. Originally formed in the 1970s as “The Dixie Daddies,” the band performed on the Lake George cruise boats for many years. Although many of the members are retired, they still enjoy bringing their tunes to the area.

On Saturday, the festival picks up at noon with a chicken barbecue and many of the same vendors and rides. Free horse and carriage rides will be at 4:30 p.m. The route usually heads towards the end of Main Street and back to the park.

Local music sensation the PJ Ferguson Trio takes to the amphitheater stage at 7:30 p.m. PJ Trio plays a wide variety of cover songs from the 1950’s to today.

Following PJ Ferguson Trio performance, at 9:30 p.m., the night sky will be lit with brilliant fireworks.

“People come from long distances to see the fireworks,” Greenough said.

Every year the centerpiece of the display is a stationary American Flag. Greenough said this is always dedicated to John Molinero, who for years supplied the funds for the American Flag firework display.

When Canal Fest ends, it doesn’t mean the show doesn’t go on. Bands will be taking to the bandstand in Riverside Veterans Memorial Park every Friday through Aug. 17.

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