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Portage’s signature event keeps getting bigger.

Thirty-seven vendors, craft and activity stations will be set up Saturday in downtown Portage for Canal Days, an increase from 30 stations in 2018, event organizer Fiorella Neira said.

The parade, which starts at 11 a.m. Saturday, has 34 participants this year — about a half-dozen more than last year.

In total offerings Friday through Sunday, Canal Days has grown steadily for at least the past four years, Neira said. It regularly attracts about 500 visitors.

“We pay attention to what the people enjoy,” she said of the event sponsored by the city and its Business Improvement District.

Canal Days kicks off at 4 p.m. Friday on Clark Street with a beer tent and cookout courtesy of the Elks Lodge, where the Back Alley Kings — a Portage blues and classic rock band — performs at 7 p.m. The Elks Lodge also will sponsor a fisheree for children ages 12 and under from 9:30 a.m. to noon Sunday at Pauquette Park.

Returning features of Canal Days on Saturday include the Kid’s Corner at Commerce Plaza with a free petting zoo, games, face painting, bouncy houses and more. Historic walking tours of the city start at 10 a.m. at the Portage Area Chamber of Commerce, and visitors may also enjoy free canoe rides of the Portage Canal from 1-3 p.m. near the Columbia County facilities at 111 E. Mullet St.

“It will be a good day for children and families, as always,” Neira said.

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New parade features include the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, a group of Wisconsin grandmothers who in their routines don full dancing apparel complete with pompoms, Neira said.

“They’re a crowd favorite at every parade they’ve ever done,” she said.

Other new features of the parade include southern Wisconsin’s Red Hot Dixie Jazz band and the Prairie Thunder Cloggers, Neira said.

At 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Divine Savior Healthcare holds its 39th annual Run-Walk in promotion of health and wellness. Participants can walk in the 1-mile and 5K courses, or run in 1-mile, 5K and 10K courses. The race begins and ends near Tivoli nursing home located at 2805 Hunters Trail.

Onsite registration for the run-walk is available from 7-8:15 a.m. For more information about this event, visit dshealthcare.com/events.

Historic Indian Agency House and Fort Winnebago Surgeon’s Quarters will offer tours of their respective facilities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Executive Director Jennifer Blau said. Re-enactors from Galena, Illinois, return to the Agency House during the tours to give visitors a taste of what life was like at the beginning of the Civil War.

“The year is 1861,” Blau said of the Agency House’s living history series, “where you’ll find out how the people recruited their soldiers, the clothes they wore, their politics of the time. We can’t wait to get it started.”

Follow Noah Vernau on Twitter @NoahVernau or contact him at 608-695-4956.

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