Summer festivals prove lucrative for City of Fort Wayne

May 13th, 2016

News Coverage:

May 12, 2016

Summer festivals prove lucrative for City of Fort Wayne

Eric DeFreeuw | 21Alive


The month of May likely seems too early for summer festival season to begin in the Summit City, but the first-ever "Fort Wayne Music Festival" kicked off Thursday evening at Headwaters Park. The three-day event is one more example of meaningful investments being made in this city as far as entertainment is concerned.

It is next to impossible to think about Fort Wayne festivals without thinking about Three Rivers Fest, but there are plenty other celebrations going on than just that. There are cultural celebrations like Germanfest and Greekfest plus the Baals Music Festival, Hobnobben film festival, and Fort Wayne Pride, just to name a few.

    These are all perfect examples of what festival organizers are hoping to accomplish - by creating a unique and diverse offering of festivals, even more people will come out to enjoy themselves, meaning even more money coming back into the community.

    "Diversity really matters," explains Bill Brown, President of the Downtown Improvement District. "Diversity in thought, diversity in options - people like options. They want more things to do, they want different things to do. And the more that we can differentiate ourselves - which is taking place with all these various people who are motivated to take all these cool outcomes and these cool entertainment options, it's just really really critical."

    And while the obvious goal of these festivals is to give people a reason to come to Fort Wayne, it also translates to big bucks for downtown retailers.

    "As more people activate to participate in coming downtown for the festivals, it feeds the restaurants, it feeds the new burgeoning retail, just all the various new things there is to do for people to come downtown and spend money. And that's really what helps drive the economy downtown - people coming downtown and be willing to spend money and spend part of their disposable income. So these festivals are a critical element."

    To put things in perspective, executive director of the Three Rivers Festival Jack Hammer says that although they do not have concrete numbers as far as dollars are concerned, the summer festival is responsible for attracting between 400,000 and 500,000 patrons annually. So he says that if each person only spent one dollar (a gross understatement), Three Rivers Fest would be responsible for a half-million dollars in just this one event.

    That is why city officials think hosting festivals like these are so important in keeping the city of Fort Wayne moving forward and thriving as an entertainment destination.