Three Rivers Festival celebrates Indiana bicentennial

July 7th, 2016

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July 7, 2016

Three Rivers Festival celebrates Indiana bicentennial

Zachary D. Elick | News-Sentinel

Stepping off at 9:45 a.m. Saturday, the 2016 Lutheran Health Network Three Rivers Festival Parade will be celebrating Indiana’s bicentennial.

Officially endorsed as an Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Project, the theme for the parade will be “Indiana Bicentennial: Celebrate History — Ignite the Future,” said Jack Hammer, executive director of the nine-day festival that starts Friday and runs through July 16.

“We asked people to represent Hoosiers from our past and help us look to the future,” he said. “And I know there will be everything there from people who celebrate automobile racing here in Indiana (to) people celebrating important flights that have happened right here in Fort Wayne and kind of our evolution with flight.”

The festival organizers put a list of 48 float ideas on the TRF website in honor of this year being the 48th Three Rivers Festival. Many of these ideas centered around famous local inventions, such as the first ever hand-held electronic calculator, the “Bowmar Brain,” invented in Fort Wayne by Ed White, Hammer said.


“There’s all kinds of neat things people can do, and we are expecting to see a lot of people do a lot of inventive things this year,” he said.

Sharon and Lynn Scrogham, the owners of Sharon’s Victorian House of Gifts, decided to celebrate the famous downtown restaurant and nightclub, Berghoff Grill & Gardens, which closed in the mid-1960s, according to Sharon Scrogham.

Though not quite as innovative as Bowmar’s calculator, Berghoff Grill & Gardens was a major part of Fort Wayne’s downtown nightlife during its heydey in the 1920s, ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, Scrogham said. Famous outlaws John Dillinger and Al Capone were even rumoured to have visited the club at least once during the prohibition era, she added.

The Scroghams have been making floats for the Three Rivers Festival since the late 1980s, they said.

Sharon Scrogham never got the opportunity to go Berghoff Grill & Gardens herself, but she has heard from people who have how nice the place used to be, she said.

To celebrate the memory of the old hotspot, Scrogham and her husband will be making a float with decorations inspired by the nightclub. The float will have an 8-foot stained-glass window in the back of it with a small stage set up with musicians and tables and chairs.

Four of Scrogham’s great-grandchildren, all of whom are about 6 years old, will be taking on the role of the musicians on the stage. Three will be drummers and another will be sitting at a miniature grand piano while pre-recorded music plays.

The float also will include two people dressed up as Al Capone and John Dillinger sitting at a table next to an ominous-looking violin case.

Also, women dressed in flapper dresses from the 1920s will be walking around the float handing out candy to children, Scrogham said.

“I like to think of things different that nobody else would pick,” Sharon Scrogham said. “(Our idea for this year’s design) just sounded a little more fun — a nightclub with gangsters.”

The parade starts on Wayne Street at Rockhill Street and goes east on Wayne until turning north on Fairfield Avenue for a block. It then turns east again on Berry Street until going north on Calhoun Street, ending at Superior Street.



Citywide party

WHAT: 2016 Three Rivers Festival. This is the 48th year for the festival, which celebrates Indiana’s bicentennial with the theme “Celebrate History — Ignite the Future.”

WHERE: Various locations 

WHEN: July 8-16. A daily schedule of events is available at

ETC: 2016 Three Rivers Festival Souvenir Buttons are available at Walgreens or the info/souvenir booth at the festival. They cost $3.50 and help raise money for the festival. Buttons also are good for discounts to concerts and select events. 


PARADE: 9:45 a.m.-noon Saturday.

ART IN THE PARK: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Freimann Square, Clinton and Main streets

DOWNTOWN MIDWAY: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-July 16, Headwaters Park East and West.

THE EMPORIUM: 4-10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday-July 16, Headwaters Park West. Vendors will be selling an array of merchandise, food and services.

RIVER EXCURSIONS: 4-8 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Headwaters Park West, ampitheater area. Free 30-minute tours.

BED RACE: 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Main Street between Lafayette and Clinton streets.

RAFT RACE: 1 p.m. July 16, starts Swinney Park, ends at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge.

FIREWORKS FINALE: 10 p.m. July 16, fireworks launched from atop the Indiana Michigan Power Center downtown.

MUSICAL ACTS: Friday, Who’s Bad; Saturday, Summer Daze; Sunday, Christian music; Tuesday, Brother; Wednesday, Summit City Rising; July 14, Heart and Soul Affair; July 15, Night Ranger; July 16, Pink Droyd.

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