Festival offers taste of Fort Wayne arts scene
Taste of Arts showcases artists, musicians, actors
Fans of food, music, and more can get a taste of just about everything when Arts United brings the annual Taste of the Arts Festival back to Fort Wayne.
Explore this rich artistic event for yourself Saturday, Aug. 27, as it fills downtown areas with musical acts, comedy shows, dance routines, and theater performances, not to mention the variety of food and artisan goods.
Rachelle Reinking, communications director for Arts United, said a number of performance stages will be spread through downtown during Taste of the Arts. There will also be opportunities for kids.
“There’s going to be 11 stages of live performances by local performers: music, theater, dance, and comedy,” she told Whatzup in an interview.
One interesting aspect of the festival this year is the Human Library, which offers a glimpse into the life stories of an entire shelf of people. Festivalgoers can “rent” one of these human “books” and listen to them speak about their experiences and perspectives.
“It is an international organization, and there’s a local Fort Wayne chapter,” Reinking said of Human Library. “Essentially, the idea is getting to know someone. These are people who live here in town, and they are ‘rented out,’ so to speak, as ‘books.’ They basically get to tell their story from different aspects.”
Performances at the festival range from music and comedy to dance and theatre will be on stages at Arts Campus, The Landing, the Rousseau Plaza, and Promenade Park. In all, there will be 77 performers on eight outdoor and four indoor stages.
“I believe we have over, at least, 60 performances, if not more, of music, and that’s all kinds of genres from big band style, to heavy metal, to acoustic singer-songwriter types,” Reinking said. “There’s different musical theater groups that will be performing. There’s a couple of comedy groups and some different styles of dance, including the traditional arts, Indiana folks that are going to be presenting more traditional dancing. And a couple of those are actually going to be interactive performances. At the end of the night, I believe there’s going to be some ballroom and belly dance that audience members are able to participate in over at Promenade Park.”
Festivalgoers can also look forward to the Artlink Market, which Reinking says is a curated marketplace of handmade goods and crafts made by local artists and vendors. Among the items available will be hanging tapestries, body care accessories, and art prints.
“You might be able to pick up a painting of a cat doing something goofy,” she said.
Children can create art with bubble painting, learn how their voice looks on a vocal spectrogram, and even test automobile designs with a tabletop wind tunnel.
In case you get hungry, food trucks will be scattered throughout the festival.
“I believe at this point, we have about 20 different food and drink vendors that are going to be on site,” Reinking said. “Some of those include, on the drink side, Hop River Brewing and Chapman Brewing. And we have some returning favorites: Banh Mi Pho Shop will be out there with their boba tea, and my favorite is spring rolls. We also have some local barbecue vendors, and The Sassy Vegan has signed up.
“I know we have a couple of the vendors who will be both at the YNLI Farmers Market and then coming over to Taste of the Arts for the remainder of the day. We’ll have a lot of those vendors at Art Campus Fort Wayne, but I believe there’s also going to be a couple of them over off of Calhoun Street and over at Promenade Park, so you don’t have to walk far to find food.”
Explore the city
One part of the festival, “Taste à la cARTe,” begins Aug. 21 and extends a few days after the festival until Aug. 30.
“It’s really just encouraging folks to go out and explore some of the brick and mortar stores that maybe don’t have the availability of their staff to actually participate on-site at the festival, but still want to be a part of it,” Reinking said.
“We’ll have a diner’s passport available for folks that want to visit those participating restaurants. Those with a filled-out passport that return it back to Arts United have a chance to win our passport to the arts gift basket, which has a value of about $1,000 worth of arts and culture experiences locally. Some of those things include passes to the children’s zoo and things of that nature. So it’s a pretty cool prize package.”
The package also includes a one-year family membership to Fort Wayne Museum of Art, two tickets to a Fort Wayne Civic Theatre performance, two tickets to a Fort Wayne Ballet performance, and many more prizes.
Accessible to all
Reinking added that, thanks to the AWS Foundation, Taste of the Arts has added more resources for those who need a sensory-friendly festival experience, as well as a CTN shuttle for those with limited mobility.
A quiet zone will be on the second floor of Fort Museum of Art. Sensory-friendly kits, which include noise-reducing headphones, will also be available for attendees to borrow. Sign language interpreters will also be on hand at select performances to aid those with auditory disabilities.