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Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Eco Fest is excellent learning environment

Headwaters Park hosts one-stop shop to learn eco-friendly practices

Information on how to protect the environment and all those that need it to survive will be available during the fourth annual Eco Fest on Sunday, May 21, at Headwaters Park.
Anthony Gadson

Anthony Gadson

Whatzup Editor

Published May 17, 2023

Having children changes people. For Addie Farris, the birth of her son in 2017 made her look around and decide to do something to ensure he will have a beautiful world to live in.

“I think a lot of parents can relate to having a child kind of shifts your perspective on the world,” she said. “You might be worried about the world before a child, but all of a sudden you have one to take of, and you’re like, ‘Whoa, we have to take care of this place.’ ”

To do her part, she went beyond recycling, using less plastic, and conserving water. She decided to start Eco Fest, which returns to Headwaters Park on Sunday, May 21.

“(Creating Eco Fest) was really out of a need to create a shared community event that like, ‘Hey, here’s all these businesses that have eco-friendly practices or they’re making eco-friendly items. Here’s are all these nonprofit organizations right here in our community that are trying to make our little neck of the woods a better place.’ ” she said.

Getting off ground

Farris, founder and president of Eco Fest, actually began the festival while living in Toledo in 2019. After moving back to Fort Wayne, she brought the idea with her. 

However, the first festival in Fort Wayne hit a bit of a speed bump thanks to COVID-19.

“It was originally slated for May, then we ended up postponing it until August,” she said. “We had a quite a few restrictions, but we still had over 700 attendees, so we were excited.”

Thanks to connections she already had in Fort Wayne, she was able to attract a lot of organizations and vendors to join that first year. Luckily for her, she is friends with the owners of a popular food truck that draws a crowd everywhere it goes — Bravas.

“The people at Bravas, (brother and sister) Bo (Gonzalez) and Becky (Gonzalez), they have a very sustainable restaurant operation,” Farris said. “When we got Bravas on board, that kind of helps. Once you get a big name, you’re reaching out to other people, and you kind of give a rundown like, ‘We have this organization and this business and this business.’ 

“I felt very honored that people gave us a chance. I’m sure there were a plenty of people that were like, ‘I don’t know anything about what this is or what is going on.’ There’s just a level of trust that has to happen when you’re a new event.”

Through that first festival, relationships were set that continue to help it grow.

“We made a lot of good connections that first year, especially with Dirt Wain,” Farris said. “That was their first year in business. Brett (Bloom) reached out to me, and I was like, ‘Of course we’d have composting at our event.’ So that’s how I got connected with Brett. Then all those vendors that were there that first year, we just keep making connections. It really is community oriented.”

Plenty of booths to visit

The first two years of the festival that highlights environmentally friendly nonprofits and vendors were held at Headwaters Park West before moving across Clinton Street for more space.

The fourth annual festival includes 45 vendors, 24 nonprofits, and Bravas and Mercadito food trucks.

“I’m always pleasantly surprised when we get vendor applications in from new businesses that are popping up and I haven’t been familiar with yet,” Farris said.

Among those new vendors is Bottle Green (formerly Sustain Fort Wayne), a zero-waste and refill shop that hopes to soon open a storefront in Fort Wayne.

“You can buy laundry detergents and soaps and other household items and refill on those without having to buy all the additional packaging that you do at the grocery stores,” Farris said. “We just have a lot of cool vendors like that.”

Other vendors include composters like Dirt Wain and Ground Down, artists like Earth & Wear by Nicki, GrenDraws, and Swee Green, and food from O-Cha Thai, Shop Two Sixty, True Kimchi, and more. A full list can be found at

There will also be plenty of nonprofits with information, including Hoosier Environmental Council, LC Nature Park, 3 Rivers Fruit Growers Club, Save Maumee Grassroots Organization, and Maumee Watershed Alliance, who will be offering 30-minute pontoon rides.

“You can sign up in advance ( or do a walk up,” Farris said of the rides that cost just $5. 

“We will have yoga from Discover Yoga every hour on the hour, and it’s free. Dirt Wain is getting their composting truck painted by Justin Lim. Tree Canopy Growth Fund is giving away free pecan trees.”

Connection is made

In the end, all the activities and fun surrounding the festival is about protecting the planet. Regardless of what you can do, every little bit helps. Through festivals like Eco Fest, you can find out even more that you can do, making connections along the way.

“When you look at sustainability and taking care of the environment, everything truly is intertwined,” Farris said. “The things that fall under the sustainability umbrella are very broad and wide-reaching. You have food waste, composting, water quality, pollution, trash, recycling, landscaping, conservation … you can go on and on. There’s so many things that are connected that when you start reaching out to your community, there are so many connections.”


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