Carnival Rides, Fireworks and Cotton Candy: It Must Be Summer Again

Why does July feel so innocent? Perhaps it’s because children are out of school and even the most jaded, urbanized adults find themselves being towed along to sweet summer activities behind a child, a grandchild, a nephew or niece, or even a beloved pet, bowled over with the excitement of being outside and maybe getting to snatch a hot dog.

In June the kids are still in school. In August, it’s too hot and the beginning of school begins to loom. But in July we go to the beach and drink lemonade and lose ourselves in the garden.

And we go to Railroad Days in North Canaan, Conn., one of the last of the great Litchfield County summer carnivals.

It used to be that nearly all the local towns had summer fairs, with cake walks and games of chance and firefighter parades. Slowly and for various reasons they’ve all died off, but Railroad Days is back for its 58th year, from July 13 to 17.

Everything you could possibly want in a summer carnival is part of Railroad Days. There is ice cream and cotton candy and carnival rides and carnival games in the evening (giving older children a chance to go off on their own and have safe, independent adventures with their friends).

There are sidewalk sales at all the downtown shops. There are raffles and picnics and church suppers.

Don’t miss the parade of firefighters marching together in full dress uniform, followed by their oldest and most charming fire-fighting vehicles. This year’s procession is on Saturday, July 16, at 6 p.m. and as always it will be followed at dusk by fireworks.

It will feel like the finale of the five days of summer fun, but more is in store on Sunday, July 17, including open hours at the Canaan Union Station Railroad Museum. The town’s historic railroad depot was burned in an arson fire in 2001, just weeks after the terror attacks of that year on Sept. 11. Many area firefighters had already been volunteering their time at the World Trade Center sites, and returned home to help battle the blaze at the beloved former train station, which was home to offices and a restaurant at that time.

It took decades to rebuild the depot, but it’s open again and is of course the honored heart of Railroad Days. The railroad museum was assembled by volunteers and includes railway memorabilia donated by train buffs across New England. Find out the full schedule for the 2022 Railroad Days events at https://canaanrailroaddays.com.

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