Children were able to "Get Afloat" on the free canoes provided by the Canal & River Trust whilst families queued to have a ride down the moorings on the free trip boat, funded by IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch.
Live music played throughout the afternoon and the performances of contemporary dance and Old Time Music Hall routines by Trinity Primary School on the Saturday drew a huge crowd. Another local dance group, Vogue Academy, who performed on the Sunday, were applauded for their incredibly energetic street style dance routines. Visitors also made full use of the catering stands and other stalls around the site whilst the face painter was overwhelmed on Saturday and brought two more staff with her on the Sunday.
IWA's own Wild over Waterways (WOW) activities were extremely popular and the presence of Shreck, the boat horse, who brought his owner Debbie Hughes along with him to the Festival, made him one of the stars of the show.
The Festival was nominated IWA's National Campaign Festival 2016 with the aims of increasing the numbers of boats coming down to Liverpool and also encouraging investment into improving this last stretch of waterway before boaters arrive in the Liverpool dock area. These aims are already on the way to being achieved.
Another aim was to create a festival that the community were truly engaged with and the local response exceeded all expectations. Before the Festival IWA volunteers worked with the local schools on the history of canals and provided resources whilst IWA's WOW Co-ordinator and John Ellis, CRT's National Fisheries & Angling Manager co-funded angling taster sessions for the local children with Peter Henery, the Junior Development Officer with the Prince Albert Angling Society.
A large crowd heard the opening speeches by Tony McGann, OBE, MBE, Chairman of the Eldonian Housing Association, Les Etheridge, Chairman of IWA, Richard Parry, CEO of CRT whilst the Festival was opened by the Deputy Mayor of Liverpool, Anna O'Byrne. The special guests had travelled down from Merton Road on the Pride of Sefton and narrowboat 'Beatty' who had performed the same service at IWA's National Rally in Liverpool in 1968.
Local Liverpool Councillor, Joe Hanson, has since said:
"Well done to everyone for the massive success that the Canal Festival turned out to be last weekend. The IWA teams delivered everything they had promised and then some, so a massive thank you to them."
Two "Get Afloat" raffle prizes were kindly donated by ABC Boat Hire and Midway Boats, Both of these were won by local residents who were absolutely thrilled by their good fortune.
IWA Chester & Merseyside branch members organised the Festival, working with the Eldonian Housing Association, Liverpool Culture and the Canal & River Trust.
The wonderful weather of last weekend (4 & 5 June) saw a large contingent of narrowboats cross the Mersey on a wonderful calm morning to join the Mersey River Festival. Moored in the Albert Dock they made a fantastic addition to all the attractions going on around the site and generated a huge amount of interest from the general public.