Canal Dover Festival returns to downtown

Canal Dover Festival returns to downtown

The Canal Dover Festival, canceled last year due to COVID-19 lockdown requirements, will return to downtown Dover May 28-30.


The Canal Dover Festival has marked the unofficial kickoff to the coming summer months for decades, held the weekend before Memorial Day for the past 40 years. The Canal Dover Festival, canceled last year due to COVID-19 lockdown requirements, will return to downtown Dover May 28-30.

The festival promises to be much like those from years past, with a few “tweaks and adjustments,” according to past Dover Exchange Club President Kevin Korns. The Exchange Club founded and sponsors the festival each year, and the event is a key fundraiser for the club.

“We want to try and be as normal as we possibly can,” Korns said, “but we will have to make some adjustments and ask the pubic to cooperate so we can all have a safe festival.”

Last year was the first the festival had been canceled since its beginning, and Korns said the club members decided, based on information and guidelines from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s office, to go ahead and “try to have the kind of festival we’re used to doing.”

The 2021 Canal Dover Festival will include local entertainment on two stages, the traditional commemorative plate auction, the full parade, rides, food vendors and a beer garden.

Changes include removal of bleacher seating for the main stage, which Korns said should be mitigated by attendees bringing their own folding chairs.

“They will need to stay 6 feet apart and observe proper social distancing. The guidelines we are following require that guests maintain social distancing, wear face masks and keep groups of people gathered to 10 or less. We are asking people to bring their own seating and stay 6 feet apart,” Korns said.

The beer garden also will offer reduced seating to keep people safely distanced.

The Dover Exchange Club uses funds raised by the group to help with numerous community projects, and the club has continued to do so in the past year in spite of being unable to hold fundraisers like the Canal Dover Festival.

“We had money saved,” Korns said, “so we were able to continue to do the things for the community we have always done. We just had to look at the year’s budget and tighten our belts a bit based on available funds.”

The community contributions made by the Dover Exchange Club include book scholarships for Dover students heading for Kent State University at Tuscarawas, The Rainbow Connection, children’s church backpack programs, the Greater Dover-New Philadelphia Food Pantry, the Soap Box Derby, the Dover Historical Society, local arts programs and more.

“We try to do a lot for kids. We approach much of what we do from the standpoint of ‘how do we help and support the kids in our community,’” Korns said.

Festival hours are Friday, May 28 and Saturday, May 29 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday, May 30 from noon to 11 p.m. The parade will begin Saturday at noon, beginning at the corner of Fourth Street and Walnut Street.

“Paradegoers are asked to wear masks and maintain proper social distancing as well,” Korns said.

The commemorative plate auction will begin at the main stage following the parade. This year’s theme is the new Dover High School, completing a trilogy of plates including the original 1915 school and the 1940 school building in 2018 and 2019.

Korns said participants are eager to get back to the Canal Dover Festival this year. “I know they are anxious, both to see people and to get back on track after last summer. Many ride and food vendors have had a very difficult year because just about every festival in Ohio was closed down last year.”

For more information about the upcoming festival, see the Dover Exchange Club Facebook page.

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