Combine Education & Fun at Johnny Appleseed Festival!

The official start of the school year has begun for most of the Fort Wayne area. I work in a school and its already time for mid-term grades to be issued!

What I like as a parent and educator is that learning can happen anywhere, anytime. In my opinion historic festivals are a good use of a family’s time. That is definitely the case with the Johnny Appleseed Festival. This year’s dates: Saturday, September 20 (10am-6pm) and Sunday, September 21(10am-5pm).

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Re-enactors teach kids about life in the 1700s.

This is the 40th anniversary of this fun and FREE festival in which every part from cooking ham and beans over an open fire to re-enactors wearing wool clothing represents life as it would have been during Johnny Appleseed’s era.

It’s not a coincidence that the festival’s namesake has a burial site at the festival’s location. After a visit to the grave, my family always ventures from one end of the festival to the other, not wanting to miss anything.

There is a play area for younger children with games, straw maze and historic fun activities, such as dipping candles. My kids enjoyed watching and listening to re-enactors who stayed in character throughout the festival to inform visitors of what life was like during the 1700s.

We’ve talked to soldiers, watched wives of soldiers sew uniforms, and chat with trappers to discover what its like to live rough on the land.

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Bagpipes add unique sound to the festival.

We’ve listened to cannons being fired, drum and fife corps and bagpipes being played throughout the days.

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Drum & Fife Corps march through the festival grounds.

Then there’s the food. Every appetite is stimulated by smells that waft on the breeze on the festival’s grounds. Naturally, the emphasis is on products made from apples so cider, apple dumplings, apple fritters, caramel apples, fried apple slices with cinnamon are present. I’m salivating just thinking about them!

Caramel corn, ham and beans, pork sandwiches, turkey legs, lemonade and other goodies are everywhere, making it easy to find food when a family member begins to complain about an empty stomach.

Insider tip: I like parking at the Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne (IPFW) lot as the festival provides free rides on a shuttle back and forth. Parking is also available in the Memorial Coliseum lot for a small fee. It might be worth it to pay to park close if you have children as your group will probably be weary after your travel back in time.

So bring your curiosity about our nation’s past, adventurous spirit and taste buds to the Johnny Appleseed Festival. And if you see Johnny, tell him we’re glad he made Ft Wayne his final home.

1502 Harry Baals Dr.
Fort Wayne, IN  46805

FROM I-69: Take Exit 309A south to Coliseum Blvd (US 930) and turn left. Pass Parnell Avenue and Memorial Coliseum. Festival grounds are located behind the Coliseum.

About

Kayleen Reusser has written children’s books and had stories in Chicken Soup books. She writes features for the News-Sentinel newspaper and profiles for the Ossian Sun Riser. She loves to travel and write about her experiences at her website: www.KayleenR.com

A Weekend on the Frontier – Johnny Appleseed Festival 2014

I was listening to the words of “The Star-Spangled Banner” the other day and thought, “Man, why has there never been a big-budget movie about the Battle of Baltimore? That would be awesome!” The battle – specifically, the failure by the British to take Fort McHenry – was a major American victory in the War of 1812 and inspired Francis Scott Key to write what would become the national anthem of the United States. This is a time period that has been mostly overlooked in popular culture, the recent exceptions of Assassin’s Creed III, a video game, and AMC’s series, Turn, aside. I mention this because Fort Wayne, Indiana, has a festival that celebrates this general time period (the late 18th/early 19th centuries) and one of its most famous figures, Johnny Appleseed. Always held over the third weekend in September, this year’s festival will be Saturday and Sunday, September 19 and 20, 2014.

When I’ve written about the festival in the past, I’ve focused on the food (which, don’t get me wrong, is delicious) or the crafts. But the whole reason we have the festival in the first place is to celebrate Johnny Appleseed and the time period in which he lived. As you walk around Johnny Appleseed Park, you’ll see drum and fife corps marching back and forth and other soldiers patrolling the grounds. You’ll see pioneers cooking and crafting, singing and dancing. You’ll get to hear stories told by frontiersmen and traveling snake-oil salesmen. You’ll get to experience life the way it used to be when Fort Wayne’s streets and skyscrapers were forests and fields.

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I’ve said before that the Johnny Appleseed Festival is my favorite festival of the year. I’m sure I’m not the only one – I run into more people I know at the Festival than anywhere else at any other time of year. Maybe I’ll run into you, and we can travel back in time together.

For more information, click here. I’ll see you there!

Mike

About

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.

Top 5 Reasons Creative Types love Fort Wayne

It is often said that creative pursuits are solitary ones and that the life of an artist is a lonely one. In reality, artists thrive off of other artists. Painters can inspire writers who can spark an idea for a lyric to a song which a photographer listens to as she rearranges perceptions and creates a winning shot. It is beneficial for artists to be in an area with other creatives – somewhere inspiration is leaking out of every wall and winding down every street.

Fort Wayne is a hub for creativity and its love of the arts make it a welcomed haven for creative thinkers. Don’t believe me? Here’s the top 5 reasons why Fort Wayne is a great place to be creative (just to name a few!):

1. Art Galleries

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Orchard Gallery

Fort Wayne is home to over 20 art galleries. It would be easy to kill a day traveling from gallery to gallery. Even just browsing can be inspiring; seeing what other artists are up to and how they use the canvas or clay to make sense of what they perceive in the world. Plus, if you hit up Orchard Gallery, you’ll be able to talk face to face with an artist. Orchard Gallery is a cooperative gallery run by artists who banned together to create this unique showroom and retail space for local art.

2. The Outdoor Spaces

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Bird of Paradise at Botanical Conservatory

Creatives often find inspiration in nature. It offers a place of quiet and solitude for thinking and imagining. It also provides organically beautiful images which can inspire something or serve as the subjects themselves. Fort Wayne has over 81 miles of trails winding through the city and over 50 parks to walk and relax in. No matter where you live, access to the trail system is easy. Our trails and safe and well-maintained and offer a variety of scenic views from cityscapes to river’s edge and secluded wooded areas. In addition to all these public lands reserved for ecology, Fort Wayne is also home to the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory. These gardens are a haven of nature in the heart of downtown Fort Wayne. Each of the gardens with the building represents a different climate of foliage and provides a unique experience.

3. Cost of Living

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Free Summer Concert at the Library

Fort Wayne is a very affordable city, which is key when you are an artist. While it is a very rewarding profession, it is not always financially rewarding. Not only is the cost of living one of the most affordable in the state, but the city also offers a lot to do for free. It can be hard to find fun things to fill your time when you are on a budget, but Fort Wayne has a lot going on for not a lot of money. From free outdoor concert series to arts festivals and free movies, there is always something to do if you are looking. Check out all the different ways to entertain yourself!

4. Downtown Arts Campus

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FW Ballet performs in the park on the Arts Campus

Downtown Fort Wayne is home to a thriving arts district. The Arts Campus houses a number of different artistic outlets from theaters to galleries, cinemas, dance space, and museums. This hub is home to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art as well as the Arts United Center, the Cinema Center, and the Auer Center, which houses Artlink and the Fort Wayne Ballet. This area is home to many different arts festivals throughout the year, including the Taste of the Arts, Fort Wayne’s premier arts festival.

5. Universities

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University of Saint Francis

Fort Wayne boasts a number of different universities. Not only does this provide the opportunity to take classes now and then when the inspiration is really lacking, but it also means that Fort Wayne is home to different open lectures, book readings, and dance and art showcases. With Indiana Tech, IPFW, and Saint Franics growing every year, the opportunities are also expanding.

These are just a few of the reasons that creative types will find a quick home in Fort Wayne. Fort Wayne expands its art community almost daily and the people of the Summit City are eager for more. So, come check out Fort Wayne – hit up some galleries, see a show at the Embassy, and walks around our trails. See what you can create!

Holley Taylor

About

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.

Best Doggone Chili Challenge

Chili is a classic American food – a real stick to your ribs kind of meal. Over the years countless recipes for this delicious treat have developed, and now, only one question remains: who makes the best chili? Fort Wayne is trying to find out who makes the best chili in town with the first annual Doggone Best Chili Challenge.

The Competition kicks off on Saturday, September 27, at Lucky Harley-Davidson, and will go from noon to 3:00 pm. Chili cookers will need to get there early to register and start their cooking, but if you’re just coming to eat, no need to arrive until all the cooking is done!

Registration to enter a chili is only $20 and forms will be accepted until September 22. Enter in your old secret family recipe or own of your own devising. There are a variety of categories to enter including vegetarian, Restaurant, Biker Club, and more! Make sure to read over the full rules and regulations before you begin cooking.

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The proceeds of this event will go toward the ASPCA to help benefit homeless animals. Further, the competition is multifaceted.  Some groups will choose to focus mainly on perfecting their chili recipe, but others may put a bit more into their costumes and the booth decor. The chili will be judged based on CASI’s five criteria: aroma, consistency, color, taste, and aftertaste. Should contestants choose to participate in the showmanship competition as well, they will be judged on both their personal costumes and their booth decoration.

There will also be a People’s Choice Award given, so remember to bring out your inner Simon Cowell when you taste the different chili entries.

This event isn’t just about the chili, though. It also promises to be a day full of family fun! Bring the whole family out to enjoy great food, fun games, and awesome adoptable pets. Raffles and a Silent Auction will also take place as part of the festivities. Admission, which covers chili tastings, is just $5 for adults and free for children 10 and under if accompanied by a parent.

Come out and help make this first annual event a success! It promises to be a great time with great food, and to top it off, its all for a great cause!

Holley Taylor

About

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.

Ready to Run – 2014 Fort4Fitness Fall Festival

Unlike most people, the end of summer is the time I’m most focused on getting into shape, not the beginning. Why, you ask? Well, during the summer, I get a decent amount of exercise just working in my yard; by the time late August rolls around, I’m mowing and weeding a lot less, so I have to make a more concerted effort to work out. August is also the time when we watch a lot of tennis, and the athleticism of tennis players always motivates me to work harder. Finally, it’s right about now that I remember Fort4Fitness is only about a month away (!), so I have to hustle up and get ready to run. The 2014 Fort4Fitness Fall Festival will be held Friday, September 26 and Saturday, September 27 in beautiful downtown Fort Wayne. Like I said, it’s almost here.

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It’s hard to believe, but this is the 7th Annual Fort4Fitness Festival. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to run in a couple years, but I’ll definitely be out there this year. You can sign up for one of three races (or new this year, one of several multi-race packages): the 4 mile, the 10K, or the half marathon. I know not everyone’s a runner – heck, I’m barely a runner – but at the very least, get out to the Festival Expo on Friday to check out all the vendors touting healthy living or sign up to volunteer.

Here’s the thing: getting fit starts with a single step. It doesn’t have to be a big step or a quick step. A baby step will suffice. The great thing about Fort4Fitness is that people of all fitness levels, including baby-steppers, will be downtown early that Saturday morning at the Baker Street Station ready to go. It’s not too late to sign up – you can do so at www.fort4fitness.org.

Mike

About

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.