Fort Wayne, Ind. – – It’s festival time, Three Rivers Festival time – – or so went the jingle that used to play in television ads to announce the start of northeast Indiana’s largest festival. From July 7 to the 15, 2023, downtown Fort Wayne will be transformed into an all-ages funland known as The Three Rivers Festival. The Three Rivers Festival boasts annual visits of roughly half a million people. People come from not just the Summit City, but southern Michigan, and northwest Ohio to enjoy the festival. Residents and visitors alike have come to expect an array of activities, fun, and food from a range of performers and vendors. Some activities are Three Rivers Festival traditions, such as the midway rides and Junk Food Alley. Others change as the festival grows and evolves.
Why the Three Rivers Festival is so special
Since its inception in 1969, the Three Rivers Festival has carved a place in the heart of Fort Wayne residents (and visitors). People clamor for the parade that makes its way through downtown streets; they line up along the route on lawn chairs, curbs, or their own porches. Many civic, law enforcement, religious and other groups present eye-catching floats or marching members on foot or horseback to cheering crowds. Some groups, including radio and television station representatives throw candy, adding a level of excitement to the parade at least for the young and young-at-heart.
The Raft Race, the Bed Race ( the latter cancelled this year for lack of interest), are Fort Wayne traditions. Watching area high school marching bands is often a point of pride for parents and students alike. The parade is almost like a roll call for a host of organizations.
This year, the event will feature Junk Food Alley, Downtown Midway, and Emporium. The Emporium will also have its own Food Rw. An array of food and their attendant smells, ranging from pizza to elephant ears and funnel cakes, to sati babis (marinated pork on skewers cooked on a grill) will fill the air. The din of the crowd as people make their way from one attraction to another will make it impossible to have low-volume conversation. Excitement, too, weaves throughout the atmosphere.
Music, Waiter/Waitress contest, Bingo and more are part of Three Rivers Festival 2023
A wide range of music from pop, r&b, and Gospel will be represented throughout the festival. National acts will have local opening acts. For example, Jospeh will have local favorite and “The Voice” darling Addison Age opening up for them. Gospel singer VaShawn Mitchell will be preceded onstage by Chris Ford & Sounds of Redemption. For a full list of acts, ticket prices, and a schedule of performances and other activities, visit: http://threeriversfestival.org
Families and artists should be on the lookout for Children’s Fest, Family Fun Day and Art in the Park. The festival is slated to close July 15 with a fireworks show. The show symbolizes the generally high spirits that characterize what many call a wonderful time of the year.