Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

It’s a return to normal for Taste of the Arts this year

The annual festival uses four locations in 2021

Chris Hupe

Whatzup Features Writer

Published August 18, 2021

Every year, the Taste of the Arts Festival celebrates and supports the rich diversity of arts and cultural experiences in our community through live performances, kid’s activities, visual art, and food and drinks from local establishments.

Organized annually as a fundraiser for Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne, this year’s event should be even more anticipated after last year’s virtual rendition.

According to Rachelle Reinking, director of communications at Arts United, last year’s event was negatively impacted by the move to virtual events only. But the organization is thankful their sponsors pivoted with them on short notice.

While many were unable to attend, or were unaware the event had move to the Internet, it was still enjoyed by community members.

“Our virtual attendance grossed more than 5,000 attendees,” she said in an interview with Whatzup. “It is less than our usual 30,000 plus. However, it was still much more than anticipated.”

Fortunately, the cost of putting on the events were also lower, helping the organization’s bottom line.

“We didn’t have the hard costs of things like stages and tents to drive our expenses,” Reinking said.

This expanded festival returns to an in-person event on Saturday, Aug. 28. The focus is on showcasing the vibrancy of Fort Wayne’s downtown attractions and their connectivity.

Four Block Parties

“Four block parties of activities take place along an arts trail, starting at Arts Campus Fort Wayne to The Landing and extending to Promenade Park,” Reinking said.

Each block party will host a performance stage and food and drink vendors. There will be additional activities throughout the festival footprint.

While a full schedule of performers was not available at press time, they will include a variety of music, dance, and theater acts.

The list includes music from Jess Thrower, Rosalind & The Way, The Paper Heart, Damage, and the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir.

Dance performances will come from the Fort Wayne Ballet, Fort Wayne Dance Collective, Mikautadze Dance Theatre, and SheeKristyle Academy of Dance Arts.

Theater presentations will be staged by the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre, Fort Wayne Youtheatre, and Summit City Music Theatre.

Comedy will be offered by Broken Pencil Improv Comedy.

Other activities include the Artlink Market, which will host 20-30 vendors selling quality handmade goods, the Fort Wayne Artists Guild Plein Air Event, and Artlink’s current exhibitions, “Drainage” by Dannon Schroeder and “Moments: The Plein Air Movement” with the Fort Wayne Artists Guild.

The NIPSCO STEAM Park will offer interactive activities for kids in the categories of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics by regional organizations.

Admission to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and the Fort Wayne Public Art Commission’s installation of the Calhoun Street Crosswalk Mural will be offered for free during the event.

Don’t Forget the Taste

Of course, Arts United has the “taste” part of the festival covered well as food and drink will be available during the entire day.

Many local restaurants, pubs, and breweries will be on hand, including Mad Anthony Brewing Company, Hop River Brewing Company, Summit City Brewerks, Chapman’s Brewing, Banh Mi Pho Shop, Shigs in Pit, West Central Microcreamery, and Kona Ice.

In order to give back to an industry that was decimated during the pandemic, participating food and drink vendors will retain their full revenue this year instead of sharing profits to benefit Arts United as in previous years.

No food tickets will be sold. Vendors will be paid directly by attendees.

New this year is Taste à la cARTe, an in-restaurant event happening from Aug. 22-31.

Each participating restaurant is offering a creative menu at its brick-and-mortar location throughout this period, allowing attendees to explore local culinary art at Alto Grato, Summit City Brewerks, Nawa, Sweets on Main, Tolon, Trubble Brewing, and Trubble Riverside Tap & Café.

The introduction of this feature “allows food and drink vendors to participate in the festival at their brick-and-mortar store without allocating staff to multiple locations,” Reinking said.

A Return to Normal

Reinking expects a return to a normal crowd size this year. People are itching to get out and experience the best of local arts, food, and entertainment. She emphasizes that though there will be a crowd, it should be safe for all.

“We have seen everyone’s anticipation to enjoy the arts ­— live and in person again — grow,” she said. “With a primarily outdoor event and the new expanded footprint, social distancing is easier to do than in previous years of the onsite festival. We’re grateful to be able to welcome our community back to the festival.”

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