Two festivals that share the name Canal Days have been cancelled because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two festivals are not related. Canal Days in Cambridge City is the weekend after Labor Day, Sept. 12-13 this year. In Metamora, Canal Days is about three weeks later, on the first full weekend in October, this year Oct. 2-4.
In Cambridge City, Canal Days takes place along Main Street, which is U.S. 40. Several blocks downtown are usually filled with vendors and there is a large parade on Sunday.
The Cambridge City Chamber of Commerce posted a message on Facebook that, “The most important thing is that our residents stay healthy.
“The Chamber, Town of Cambridge City and Fire Department all look forward to next year’s 50th Canal Days Celebration!”
A car show and fireworks display that had been planned by other groups for the same weekend are also cancelled.
One downtown business owner, James Bertsch, posted on the same page that local stores should do something to help make up for the loss of business.
“We need to move forward (carefully). So we businesses in the downtown will still do something on Canal Days Weekend. We survive!! We will ‘not’ give up and cancel our future!!,” Bertsch wrote.
On Friday, Historic Metamora announced the cancellation of its Canal Days this year. The organization had been waiting to make a decision about the festival until after Gov. Eric Holcomb’s announcement on Wednesday about the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Holcomb extended limitations on large public gatherings until Sept. 25.
Canal Days typically draws thousands of people to Metamora, a restored Civil War-era village of a few hundred residents. Vendors, craftsmen and old-time music are featured.
The organization posted this message on its Facebook page: “For the vendors who rent from Historic Metamora Inc., you will receive an email notifying you of this decision along with pertinent rental information. For those vendors who rent from Duck Creek and Gateway Park, you will be contacted by the appropriate organization. Vendors who rent from private property owners need to reach out to them if they don’t contact you.”
The group noted that shops and the Whitewater Canal historic site will be open that weekend.
The next Canal Days will take place Oct. 1-3, 2021, Historic Metamora said.
Higher Praise Worship Center has been in the community for 20 years. The anniversary date came and went in April due to COVID-19 so the church having a celebration Sunday.
Without a building, Pastor Richard “Richie” Ware and his wife Stacey Ware started the church on April 16, 2000. An anniversary service will be held at its 10-year-old church building, 812 Ziegler Road, at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
“I won’t forget when I knew I wanted to preach. I remember one day I was driving in Indianapolis and of everyone in Indy, I was behind my pastor, all the way to Rushville. She saw me and motioned me to pull over. She then explained the Lord spoke to her and she was going to be on vacation the next Sunday and asked if I wanted to preach. I had never preached before, ever. I agreed and that was the first time I preached,” Ware said.
After being an associate pastor for several years, Ware decided to open a church of his own.
“It started out with me, my wife, our two kids, my parents and one of my friends who was a single mother with three kids, and my sister and brother-in-law,” Ware said. “We started out just renting places at the park for services.
“Then we started renting from Sharon Cranfill on 30th Street. We packed that place out and we didn’t even have a sign there,” he laughed. “We didn’t have a set home for about two years. Then, Janet Kidd found us a place over by the gymnastic center. That location would flood when we had a good rain; we would have to go in before service and try to dry it out.”
At that point Ware knew they needed a bigger space, but he didn’t want to build. He wanted to find something to remodel.
“We all prayed about it and in 2008 the church started a building fund. We ended up raising money fairly quick. God told me, ‘I have some land for you, but you can’t get there from here.’ So I’m like, ‘C’mon now Jesus,’” he laughed.
Shortly after, Ware was talking to Tina Fox, a hairdresser who lived here at the time. She mentioned Bill Parett had some land where they were going to build a church but it had fallen through.
“I asked her where it was and she said, ‘That’s the thing, it is a good place but you can’t get there from here.’”
Ware smiled, knowing God was working.
“The reason you couldn’t get there was because the bypass hadn’t been put in yet. The land was where Ziegler Road is now.
“I literally had to park at the (CHS) football field, walk across a cornfield and jump a fence,” he laughed. “I talked with Bill about my vision and we worked out a deal.”
Ware said God has always dealt with him this way. It is like a spirit inside of him that talks to him and guides him.
Ziegler Road – the bypass – came into being shortly before the new church in 2010. It was, right on time, God’s time, Ware said.
“We have a multicultural church here. God spoke to me and said, ‘Don’t witness to people who look like you, witness to who is next to you.’”
Ware tries to make sure his church is involved with the community and hopes to do nothing but grow and help.
“You only have a strong church if you have strong families. Christianity is a lifestyle, 99 percent of people would be Christian if they knew what that was. We aren’t trying to be perfect, we are trying to be saved, we need a relationship with God. I go to bed and want to wake up a better person, be a better person than the day before. We all fall but it is how you get up.
“Falling is easy, getting up is courage. We accept everyone here, we expect change. If you come and visit, we think it is going to be impossible for you to be the same. You can’t have an encounter with God and walk away the same as they were before. We fully expect if you engage, you will change. I try to teach people to come to church expecting, have expectations when you come. If you show up with an expectation, half of your prayers are already met, 90 percent is showing up.”
The Fayette County Public Library is one of 150 Indiana libraries that received funding for materials addressing racial injustice.
Libraries, schools, universities and nonprofit organizations are receiving grants to purchase highly sought-after books, digital materials and films addressing racial injustice in America to add to circulating collections in their communities. The local library received $1,000.
“Obviously, we are delighted to have been selected to receive this grant,” Betsy Slavens, Fayette County Public Library director, said. “We will be spending the money adding items to our collection that continue the discussions many of us have been having in regards to the racial inequality in this country.”
She said the materials chosen will be from a list that was provided by Indiana Humanities, which awarded funds provided by the Lilly Endowment Inc. The list includes books for children, young adults, adults, as well as documentaries and movies.
In the wake of the murder of George Floyd and ensuing protests, many libraries were overwhelmed by requests for materials, and library patrons faced long wait times for the most popular books and other resources related to racial equity. Indiana Humanities developed Advancing Racial Equity Collection Development Grants that will go to 150 nonprofit organizations in 60 Indiana counties.