Making waves to make city open for all

September 11th, 2016

The Journal Gazette

Johnny Appleseed has ruled the third weekend of September for more than 40 years. This year, Middle Waves will rock the festival scene downriver to ensure Fort Wayne has “everything for everyone.”

The music festival will draw crowds to Headwaters Park on Friday and Saturday. The Flaming Lips, a three-time Grammy winner, is the headliner but Steering Committee Co-chairman Matt Kelley hopes festivalgoers will check out Oddisee, The Ike Reilly Assassination and two dozen other national and local bands appearing on three stages over two days.  

“We’ve tried not to say there’s ‘something for everyone’ but instead say it’s everything for everyone,” he said. “The festival was born out of the growing momentum of our live music scene in this community ... we intend to complement the mix that includes A Better Fort, Foellinger (Theatre) and others ... to bring to life and share the music that exists here the other 51 weeks of a year.”

Organizers have a big assist from Sweetwater, the principal sponsor, as well as Parkview Health and the Knight Foundation, whose Soul of the Community survey of Fort Wayne found social offerings (entertainment infrastructure, places to meet people, community events) were a primary factor in connecting residents to the city. That same survey gave the city low marks for welcomeness to groups besides families with young children and the elderly, however.

Middle Waves can help remedy that problem with a lineup of hip hop, garage rock, Americana and more. It’s worked in Des Moines, Iowa, where the successful 80/35 festival serves as a model for enhancing a city’s quality of life. Kelley and nine other Middle Waves committee members attended the July event there to watch and learn. They returned with ideas for a festival that will be family friendly and packed with food, entertainment, vendors and more. A two-day ticket is $75 for the main-stage concerts in Headwaters Park East, but everything else – including music at two stages in Headwaters Park West – is free.

Categories Quality of Life