Augusta CanalFEST to kick off this weekend

Wednesday, October 30, 2019
News 12 at 6 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Augusta CanalFEST is coming up this weekend, and organizers say its a way to keep the canal going.

Even on rainy days, the Augusta Canal Trail stays busy, but Saturday thousands are expected to turn out.

"They can use it for fishing, kayaking," said Julianna Shurtleff, who works to develop the Augusta Canal National Heritage area. "They can bike ride. They can run. They can bring their dogs out."

CanalFEST is in its fourth year. It's an educational opportunity for those who use the park across the community.

"We want to show how to be a public steward for your park," Shurtleff said. "You know, to preserve this from what we have and to keep it here for generations to come."

The canal has been here for generations as well. It's was dug in the 1840s to pull Augusta out of an economic depression.

Still today, it's one of the city's backbones.

"The canal itself provides 75 percent of Richmond county's drinking water," Shurtleff said.

It's still powering parts of the city too.

"We are the oldest industrial hydropower canal in the United States," Shurtleff said.

CanalFEST features a 5K, live music, food vendors, fly fishing and more. Each dollar goes to protect the park and to the canal keepers.

"It's like a community of us that help preserve the canal, not only with money, but with volunteer hours with efforts to cleanup the canal," Shurtleff said.

It gives the community an opportunity to play a part too.

"It's a way to show that this your park," Shurtleff said. "This is your backyard."

CanalFEST starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday at Mill Village Trailhead.The festival is free admission.