Three Rivers Festival

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Three Rivers Festival
Begins first Saturday after Independence Day
Frequency yearly
Location(s) Fort Wayne, Indiana
Inaugurated 1969
Website
threeriversfestival.org

The Three Rivers Festival is an annual festival held in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The festival's run spans nine days in mid-July, always starting on the first Saturday after Independence Day. It is a celebration of the heritage of Fort Wayne, established during the French and Indian War at the confluence of three rivers, the Maumee, St. Marys, and St. Joseph. Events include a community parade through downtown, a food alley, amusement rides, a bed race, art and craft shows, children's and seniors mini-fests, an International Village, a shopping marketplace, Rivergames and a fireworks finale.[1]

History[edit]

At the first Three Rivers Festival in 1969, an estimated 100,000 people enjoyed a grand parade, and 60 events on the Columbia Street Landing. The festival in 1973 attracted one million visitors. Among its highlights was the air show by the Navy's Blue Angels. In 1976, the Nation's Bicentennial, the festival included an international beer can collectors convention. That year attendance topped 2 million. In 1977, the festival added fireworks for the first time, and its opening day parade was the second largest in the state. When the festival opened in 1979, seven hundred balloons were released from the top of a city building. By 1980, the festival has grown to 206 events across the city. The following year, the festival introduced a children's parade and attempted to set a record for the World's Longest Hot Dog, at 527 feet long. Two years, later the festival featured the World's Biggest Pretzel, at 10 feet in diameter.[2]

The festival has continued to grow and add new attractions and fun events. In 1991 a $20,000 Arts United grant expanded Sunday in the Park to art events at Seniors Day and the Children's Festival. By 1999, the Art in the Park was expanded to include Main Street, featuring a juried show of 85 national artists. That same year, the Three Rivers Festival enjoyed crowds in excess of 500,000, maintaining its position as the second largest event in Indiana.[2]

Financial[edit]

Three Rivers Festival is a 501(c)4 not-for-profit organization, founded in 1969, and funded entirely by vendor participation fees, souvenir sales, refreshment sales, entertainment ticket sales, and the generous sponsorship and support of area businesses.

For 2009 and 2010, Fort Wayne Newspapers was the Festival Title sponsor. National Serv-all was the 2010 sponsor of the Fireworks Finale. PNC, Sweetwater and STAR 88.3 were other major 2010 sponsors.

Three Rivers Festival Events[edit]

As the second largest festival in Indiana, the Three Rivers Festival has many family-friendly events, centered in Headwaters Park in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana. Many affiliated events are featured throughout the Fort Wayne area. Crowd favorites include the Waiter-Waitress Contest on Monday afternoon, the must-see Bed Race on Main Street on Wednesday, and the Children's Fest at IPFW on the final Friday & Saturday. A favorite from the past will return in 2011, with International Village being featured in the west pavilion of Headwaters Park on the final Friday & Saturday.

Art In The Park[edit]

The first weekend of the Festival features "Art in the Park", a juried fine arts show & sale, located on Freimann Square, Main Street and Barr Street, adjacent to the Arts United Center and the Fort Wayne Museum of Art in downtown Fort Wayne. Over 100 talented artists from northeast Indiana and across the country offer oils, watercolors, photography, sculpture, pottery, and more.

Opening Day Parade[edit]

Beginning in the historic West Central neighborhood, the two-hour parade fills winds through downtown Fort Wayne. A local musical group typically opens the parade with the national anthem, followed by many parade units, area high school marching bands, local celebrities, the crowd-pleasing "Queen Bee" Helium Balloon from Vera Bradley, and approximately 100 other colorful entries.

This traditional kick-off Parade celebrates our community and the beginning of nine fun-filled days of Three Rivers Festival. The 2010 Parade theme was “Fun in the Sun!” with many colorful and creative entries, from approximately 130 groups or organizations that participated.[3] The 2011 Parade theme will be "Sights and Sounds of Summer."

The Parade is broadcast live on Indiana’s NewsCenter, with a repeat broadcast in early evening. The Parade route distance is approximately two miles, winding through the West Central Neighborhood and downtown. The first Parade unit steps off at approximately 9:45 a.m., and arrives at the downtown broadcast point shortly after 10:00 a.m. The Parade ends at Calhoun and Superior Streets.

Fireworks Finale[edit]

Tens of thousands of area residents eagerly await Northeast Indiana’s largest pyrotechnic show, marking the close of nine fun-filled days of Three Rivers Festival. From the top of a 26-story building in downtown Fort Wayne, the dazzling colors, flashes of light and sparkles and thundering booms fill the night sky during this highly visible Fireworks Finale show, delighting the throngs of Festival-goers gathered in Headwaters Park, as well as the admiring viewers from all around our city.

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