Canal Winchester Labor Day Festival – three days of fun!

Messenger photo by Rick Palsgrove
The “Canal Boat Races” have become a traditional part of the Canal Winchester Labor Day Festival. Participants race their canal boat through obstacles and complete challenges. During one of the Canal Boat Race challenges last year, Melissa Bickmeyer had to spin around an oar three times while keeping her head connected to the oar.

The 98th annual Canal Winchester Labor Day Festival, presented by Diley Ridge Medical Center, will fill the streets of historic downtown Canal Winchester over Labor Day weekend Sept. 1-3.

Opening ceremonies will be on the main stage on Sept. 1 at noon. This year’s festival will host a traveling Korean War Memorial, a distinctive military tribute honoring those lost in the Korean War. The memorial will be displayed on the festival grounds throughout the weekend.

Sept. 1 entertainment will be presented on two stages and will feature music by Winchester Steel Co., Waterloo5, 3-Cat Day, and headliner Bon Journey, who will take the main stage at 8 p.m. Other Sept. 1 attractions include Columbus Zoo animals at the Bob McDorman Building from 4–5 p.m., children’s games, and performance art. Families may enjoy free children’s midway rides from noon to 5 p.m. (Sept. 1 only) courtesy of Jeff Wyler Chevrolet.

Sept. 2 will once again bring out some of the finest show cars in central Ohio. In past years, over 200 antique, muscle, and classic cars have been on display. The cruise-in, hosted by C-Town Cruisers, will start at 10 a.m. and will wrap up at 4 p.m. with trophy presentations. Registration is $15 per car and begins downtown at 9 a.m. on West Waterloo Street.

Columbus Zoo animals will make another special appearance on Sunday morning from 10:30–11:30 a.m. In addition, festival-goers of all ages are invited to explore 10 COSI Science Spots inside the Bob McDorman Building on Sept. 2 from 2-5 p.m.

Sept. 2 musical entertainment includes performances by Marquis66, TNT Acoustic Duo featuring Tim Oliver, God’s Dirt, Kaitlyn Baker, and Chris Higbee on the main stage at 8 p.m.

The Canal Winchester Historical Society’s ice cream social will be held Sept. 2 from 2-4 p.m. at the CW Historical Complex on North High Street. The festival’s no-water Canal Boat Races, a competitive team event with cash prizes, will also be held on Sept. 2 in the Stradley Park green space and alley space at 2 p.m.

Sept. 3 will feature the festival’s annual Canal Winchester Labor Day Parade presented by Kelly Abbott & the “A” Team, HER Realtors. The parade theme is “A Magical Disney Labor Day.”

Parade entry is available online through Aug. 24. This year, the Labor Day Festival will honor local Korean War veterans as grand marshals of the parade. Main stage entertainment on Labor Day will feature music by the Cornerstone Gospel Quartet as well as the alternative rock band The Brighton Boys.

In addition to the children’s activities, midway rides, and street vendors, a quilt show will be available for viewing at the Community Center each day during the festival. For those over 21, the BrewDog Beer tent will be located near Stradley Park.

“The Canal Winchester Labor Day Festival is celebrating its 98th year, and is pleased to remain family-friendly throughout the years. With so many food vendors, arts and crafts vendors, rides, games, free entertainment, hospitality tent and our renowned parade, there is something sure to please everyone in the family,” said Mayor Mike Ebert.

The Canal Winchester Labor Day Festival recognizes all festival supporters, with special thanks to presenting sponsor Diley Ridge Medical Center. For all Labor Day Festival details, including parade entry, schedule, and complete sponsor listings, visit

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