Remember those days back in January when wind chills were 40 below and the only thing you could do was huddle inside covered in all the blankets you owned?
Well, that weather is in the past, and it’s not just tolerable outside, it’s joyously beautiful. It’s a shame that you have to work inside all day, but you get a lunch break, right?
This year, Fort Wayne’s Downtown Improvement District is celebrating the 11th annual edition of Lunch on the Square, a series of events meant to celebrate both the beauty of the season and the city’s vibrant local music scene.
Free Concerts for Downtown
Held each Thursday between June 6 and August 29, Lunch on the Square is a series of free concerts on Freimann Square. The concerts are timed to correspond with lunch breaks, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., so that downtown workers can easily step out of their stuffy offices and enjoy music while they eat their lunches.
It’s what a space like Freimann Square was made for, and it’s one more reason that downtown is a great place to be.
“It’s a fun event for the community,” said Rick Zolman, the Downtown Improvement District’s Events and Programming Manager. “It’s a treasure to have something like this where people can come down, have lunch, and just relax for a while before getting back into the work day.”
If you forgot to bring your lunch, you’re not out of luck. In fact, grabbing a carry-out lunch at one of the nearby restaurants or from one of the 13 food trucks that will be on the square is arguably the best way to enjoy the event.
Once you have your food situation sorted out, it’s time to grab a bench or chair — or spread out a picnic blanket — and bask in the sunshine and music.
Fresh faces and Familiar favorites
Many of the city’s most-loved performers are regulars at Lunch on the Square, but there are some fresh faces on the schedule this year, as well.
“This year we’ll have a lot of old favorites, as well as some new musicians,” Zolman said. “We’ll have pop, folk, jazz, and this year we’ll have traditional country and bluegrass. It’s a great variety, and there’s something for everyone.”
Jon Durnell gets the party started on June 6, followed by the Alicia Pyle Quartet the following week.
Later in the summer, bluegrass/blues band Jen & The Foggy Creek Band, acoustic duo Shelly Dixon and Jeff McRae, and retro-inspired pop songwriter Damon Mitchell will mix things up a little.
Over the years, the community’s response to Lunch on the Square has been everything that its organizers had hoped it would be. The events average about 1,200 attendees per week, and the people who come out are a diverse bunch.
“We’re amazed at how it’s grown over the years, and at how the community is involved,” Zolman said. “We get kindergarten and preschool groups coming down, and we get groups like the the University of Saint Francis’ women’s soccer team coming down, so we have four- and five-year-old kids all the way to great-grandparents enjoying the event.”
Winter is a fading memory, and the anticipation of summer is palpable in downtown Fort Wayne. Everything and everyone is ready for the season.
Freimann Square has a new look, and the organizers of Lunch on the Square are eager to get things started.
“The fountain on the square has been renovated, and it should make the event even more fun this year,” Zolman said. “We’re just excited to get out there.”
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