Fort Wayne for Millennials

Usually defined as people born in the 1980s and 1990s, Millennials recently usurped Baby Boomers as the largest generation. Despite our overwhelming presence in the world, we are often still a bit of an overlooked group. We are often deemed as antisocial (constantly on our phones) or still shoved at the children’s table. There has been so much debate recently about what millennials do and don’t like to do, what we are or aren’t into, and whether we are a more aware generation or just a bunch of selfish brats.

I can’t speak to most of that, but as far as what millennials do and don’t like to do, I know for myself, most of what I do is determined by cost. Going to college is expensive and even if you work it can be difficult to get by. I also know this isn’t likely to change any time soon after graduation because like many of my fellow millennials, I will be paying off my school for a long time.  That is not to say I won’t spend money, but when I do, I want to be sure it is going to be worth it.

So, if you are looking for something to do and are in the same boat as me, here are some things that are either free or worth the money.

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Swinney Park

One of the most often overlooked ways to spend your time in Fort Wayne is out on the trails. Fort Wayne has great parks and over 80 miles of walking, running, and biking trails. Totally free of charge, the trails allow you to enjoy the summer weather and give an interesting perspective of our city. Take a trail you’ve never taken before, find the Japanese garden in Swinney park, or try walking from destination to destination.

It’s especially easy to find things to do in the summer. Fort Wayne has about six different free summer concert series. With so many options, it’s likely that on any given weekend you can find a concert with a band playing music you like. It’s a great way to widen your music horizons and discover some cool new bands. Or, if outside concerts aren’t your scene, a lot of bars in town feature live music. Check out the Acme, the Brass Rail, Club Soda, and the Phoenix.

Summer is also time for farmers markets. There are so many markets that there is one open almost every day of the week, and there is guaranteed to be one close your neighborhood. Even if you don’t spend anything, it is always fun to browse. Still, the prices are usually affordable and it is nice to know that whatever you purchase is locally grown and supports local business. Grab some fresh produce, pack it in a cooler, and have a picnic in one of the many parks.

Going to museums is also a great way to spend the day, but admission prices can be steep. Fort Wayne has over 20 art galleries around town. If you want to see some great art, take a trip to some of our galleries and browse the art for free. One great place to go is Orchard Gallery; run by local artists, every time you stop in, there will be an artist working. Ask them questions about their work and hear about their processes and inspirations.

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Orchard Gallery

If you are willing to spend a little money, check out a movie at the Cinema Center. An art house theater in downtown Fort Wayne, Cinema Center shows great indie and foreign movies and it’s a non-for-profit, so all the money goes back into providing the community with a chance to see films they wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to see. Hit up a matinee to make it even a little easier on the wallet as well.

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Columbia Street West

As another money-needed option, check out some of the great nightlife in downtown. JK O’Donnell’s offer great prices on quality beer, the Deck is a great place to enjoy the weather, the Dash-In has a chill environment and great live music, and Columbia Street has unique charm and a fun atmosphere.


There really is a lot to do to occupy your free time in Fort Wayne even on a budget. In a city like ours, there is no excuse to be bored, you just have to think outside of the box. When you are at a loss for what to do, check out Visit Fort Wayne’s Calendar of events.

Holley Taylor


Holley is a student at Albion College in Michigan studying English with a Creative Writing Emphasis and History. She is excited to be back in her hometown this summer working as a Marketing Intern for Visit Fort Wayne. Holley enjoys reading, writing, dancing, and spending time with family and friends.

Cheap Trick “Live at TRF”

cheaptrick Cheap Trick Live at TRFOne of the great traditions of the Three Rivers Festival is the music. Every year the TRF draws local, regional, and national acts to its stages, and this year is no exception. Cheap Trick, one of my favorite – and one of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest – bands, is kicking off this year’s festivities with an all-ages show at Headwaters Park in downtown Fort Wayne on July 11, 2014.

Like most people my age, I’d guess, I discovered Cheap Trick in 1988 when I first heard “The Flame.” I grabbed the album (well, cassette) that spawned the single, Lap of Luxury, soon thereafter and played that thing into the ground. That led me to earlier hits like “Dream Police,” “I Want You to Want Me,” and “Surrender,” which I’m sure I’d heard before, just without really knowing the band or being a fan. I’ve been lucky enough to see them twice already – once when they opened for Stone Temple Pilots in West Lafayette, IN, and once in Dayton, OH – and both times they put on a fantastic show. A lot of acts haven’t aged well but continue to play, but don’t count Cheap Trick among them. They’ve still got it.

Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 day-of-show and can be purchased at the Three Rivers Festival office, the Embassy Theatre box office, or online at If you’re a fan of the band or just a fan of live music, this is a show you don’t want to miss!



Apart from spending his college years in West Lafayette, Indiana, and Dayton, Ohio, Mike Flohr is a lifetime resident of the Summit City. Today he divides his time among his wife, Megan, his job as a college librarian, and his many geek obsessions.

Sweetwater Rock Camp jams out

sweetwater1 300x225 Sweetwater Rock Camp jams out

Each “camper” attending rock camp is matched up with bandmates and a first-class instructor.

The gritty sounds of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” pour out of one of the conference room and into the hallway. I’m surprised when we enter the room and it isn’t seasoned musicians playing, but young kids, ages 12-18. They are working on one of their cover songs, part of Sweetwater Sound’s Summer Rock Camp.

This week-long camp affords children the opportunity to nurture and enhance their musical talents. The students,who come from all over Fort Wayne and the surrounding areas, are put into bands the first day, giving them the opportunity to meet other budding musicians. The bands work with professional musicians all week to developing a set for Friday’s concert.

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Each band will come up with a unique name, as well as work on cover art for their very own album – year’s past are displayed in the hall of the Academy of Music.

Not only will the bands perform three covers, but they will also debut an original song, design a CD cover, and record their song at the on-site recording studio. The students form real bonds with their band-mates that even sometimes turn out lasting past the camp, says director of the academy Kevin Christenson.

The camp offers students a chance to focus on their music and develop their skills further. For a week, they are allowed to be real rock stars and take on the responsibilities associated with that title. And, with access to all the state-of-the-art equipment and facilities that Sweetwater offers, the musicians really come away with the experience of a lifetime.

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The big weekending concert takes place in Sweetwater’s state of the art Performance Theater.

Rock Camp will be held three more weeks this summer: July 7-11, July 21-25, and August 4-8. There are openings for all weeks still, so come to this Friday’s concert, June 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the Sweetwater Performance Theater, and see if it is something your budding musician would love.

Or, if you are just visiting Fort Wayne, stop by for a unique night out. The performance will run like a ticketed rock concert complete with lighting, fog, and great tunes played by talented musicians. Make sure to get there early to get a seat, and stick around after and take a walk around the facility. Take a look at the Rock Camp band CD cover designs, see how the warehouse runs and check out the microphone vault.

Sweetwater also offers Open Acoustic Jam every second and fourth Tuesday starting at 5:00 p.m. Bring your guitar and play a song, or just come to watch and enjoy the music.

Holley Taylor


Holley is a student at Albion College in Michigan studying English with a Creative Writing Emphasis and History. She is excited to be back in her hometown this summer working as a Marketing Intern for Visit Fort Wayne. Holley enjoys reading, writing, dancing, and spending time with family and friends.

Weeklong Three Rivers Festival Concert Series Features National Acts

Outdoor concerts simply embody summer, don’t they? At the annual Three Rivers Festival in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana they are a staple. Three Rivers Festival is Fort Wayne’s favorite summer party since 1969! Concerts this year take place July 12 through 19 so save the date now!

three rivers logo Weeklong Three Rivers Festival Concert Series Features National Acts

The concerts all take place at Headwaters Park, conveniently located downtown, and around the city. For details on specific shows and locations visit Three Rivers Festival online today. Tickets for each show can be purchased online or at the door. They can also be purchased at the Three Rivers Office, at 102 Three Rivers North, or the Embassy Box Office, 125 W. Jefferson Blvd., during regular business hours.

2014 Three Rivers Festival Concert Series Lineup

  • July 11: Cheap Trick
  • July 12: Under the Sun Tour featuring Blues Traveler, Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth & Uncle Kracker
  • July 13: For King & Country, Love & The Outcome
  • July 14: The Rescue Plan
  • July 15: Brother (featuring $2 food and beer specials!)
  • July 16: The Tim Harrington Band, The Jug Huffers & The Atomic Sharks
  • July 17: American Young
  • July 18: Who’s Bad – The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Band
  • July 19: Urban Legend

mega pass Weeklong Three Rivers Festival Concert Series Features National Acts

Insider Tip: For only $45 you can gain access to all nine shows this summer! Coined the Mega Pass, this pass is the ultimate Three Rivers Festival concert experience. Learn more by visiting the festival online.


Previously a news reporter at daily newspapers in Indiana and Ohio, Holly Hammersmith now enjoys the lighter side of writing through freelance work. In her spare time, Holly can be found running or practicing yoga. She also enjoys visiting local coffee shops and day-tripping. Holly lives with her husband, dog Lulu and half a dozen houseplants. Find Holly on Twitter @HFHammers and at

Don’t miss the Living Fort Wayne summer concert series

I don’t know about you, but for me summer is synonymous with live, outdoor music.  Lucky for me(and you), a concert series in Headwaters Park will showcase some of Fort Wayne’s best talent. Online publication Living Fort Wayne is sponsoring a three-part concert series in one of Fort Wayne’s most scenic outdoor venues.

Although the first of the three concerts has passed, there is still time to get in on the fun in July and August.  Going forward a total of four acts will grace the stage, the first being the acoustic act and the latter being the featured band.

July 2:

The July show opens with Left Lane Cruiser. This two-man rock duo is comprised of Joe Evans on slide guitar and vocals with Brenn Beck on drums and harmonica.  Their personal take on the North Mississippi Hill Country sound will get you movin’. If you can’t make this show, you can likely catch them at local dive bar The Brass Rail.

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Get down with yo’ bad self to Adam Strack’s music.

After you get your fix of blues rock, take in the reggae/ska sound of Unlikely Alibi. According to their website, “Unlikely Alibi brings to mind the best work of The Clash, Madness and Elvis Costello, with a traditional, yet modern twist. ” I’ve seen them perform before, and they do put on a good show. Their stage presence is impressive.

August 6:

Singer-songwriter Adam Strack kicks off the August show with his trademark brand of acoustic covers– anything from Jack Johnson to James Taylor. Shifting gears a bit is Bluebird Revival. According to their Facebook page, “Blue Bird Revival is a high energy gospel band featuring new versions of traditional hymns, as well as our own music that is a down-home combination of country, bluegrass, ragtime and gospel.”

After you fed your hunger for music, take advantage of beer from J.K. O’Donnell’s, as well as food truck fare. The concert is open to all ages, but those who wish to drink must be 21 or older.


Lauren Caggiano was raised in Fort Wayne, and returned in 2007 upon graduation from the University of Dayton. The president of WriteOn LLC, she specializes in writing, marketing, and French translation. In her spare time she enjoys travelling, yoga and volunteering. In the summer you can catch her riding around downtown on her vintage green Schwinn. For more information, check out her website: