Loo-Au at the Zoo – A fun summer thing to do!

IMG 6888 1 300x199 Loo Au at the Zoo – A fun summer thing to do!

Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo members are invited to the Zoo-Loo-Au!

A hotdog, chips and cool treat at the Zoo – what could make summer better? How about a free ride through one of the zoo exhibits?

According to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, the Zoo-Loo-Au celebration can draw more than 10,000 visitors in one day and it can be a really busy time! But it is a tradition here in Fort Wayne – and you don’t want to miss it.

The Zoo-Loo-Au, Monday, July 28, is for members only. If you have purchased membership with the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, then you will receive a postcard invitation to the Loo-Au. If you happen to have some friends coming along who are not zoo members, additional food tickets can be purchased when you get there (food is free to members). And if you’re new in town, you can also purchase membership on the day of the party. Just be prepared for some fairly long lines!

The Zoo-Loo-Au will feature a picnic meal (hot dogs, potato chips, orange drink and a sweet treat – usually a chocolate/vanilla ice cream sandwich) and free admittance to a ride of your choice inside the zoo. You are able to tour all the exhibits, too – from the African Journey area to the Indonesian Rain Forest.

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Enjoy hot dogs and chips in the picnic area.

Rides that are available include the boat ride in the Australian Adventure area, the train ride, and the carousel. If you use up your free ride and want to take a different ride, too, you can – just line up at the counter and buy a ticket.

The zoo opens at 8 a.m. for members and lunch is served beginning at 11 a.m. The zoo will be staying open until 8 p.m., so you can either come over for an afternoon jaunt with the kids or wait until after work for a family-friendly event in the cooler evening. Check the zoo’s website for exact details on when rides open and close.

The picnic takes place outside the official zoo gates. Lots of wooden picnic tables are scattered about under the huge trees of Franke Park. Some folks opt to bring picnic blankets. If you want to have a bigger meal than just hot dogs and chips, bring a packed cooler with your extras – I’ve seen complete meals appear magically on the tables. You might want to bring soda, extra chips, pb&j or other delectable fare.

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The Zoo-Loo-Au is fun for everyone!

Inside the zoo, the walkways are crowded with people meandering slowly through the exhibits. The sea lions are usually swimming around in their huge, windowed tank. The cooling arbor built over the sidewalk is also a draw for visitors who want to get out of the sun.

The Indonesian Rain Forest is also refreshing with its indoor explorer’s cabin (check out the hammocks in the back) and the pleasant waterfall and water plants. While it feels like you’re traveling through a rain forest, it’s cooler than wandering around outside in the full sunshine.

But what is truly cooling if you’re going to stay outdoors is the boat ride. Yes, you might wind up in a line that is about 50 people long. But once you have stepped into the canoe and the zoo helper has launched your craft, the pleasant swooshing of the boat and the rush of the water is worth the wait. Through different tunnels and around the kangaroo grounds, you can just sit and relax and snap a few photos. After all, this is summer – and you’re enjoying it!



Louisa is a lifelong Fort Wayne resident. A long-time musician and literature aficionado, Louisa likes to explore the classical music offerings that Fort Wayne has to offer. (She also likes to browse the Allen County Public Library's stacks for just the right book!)

Picnic Grounds and Peace

The Veteran’s Memorial National Shrine – it’s peaceful. There’s a gravel parking area, bordered by sawed-off telephone poles driven into the ground. A large, three-sided pole barn is over on one edge of the property. You can see a couple of picnic tables nearby. And then, your eye is caught by the vast expanse of flat green grass and the memorials.

Towards the back of the property are a variety of military-themed memorials. Some of them are simple, like the brick flag pole pedestal with a modest metal plaque stating the American Legion post that put it up. A different memorial is also plain, with two full-sized anchors at the foot of a flagpole.

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Although it is weather-worn, this memorial is still impressive for the number of detailed etchings it has.

Another spot is elaborate with heavy benches, cement and brick walks and a great stone slab, etched with the image of a soldier in full Korean winter gear. American flags abound at this park, but flags from the armed services and from other organizations are also present.

Although this memorial shrine area is on O’day road and is quite close to busy traffic, you wouldn’t be able to guess that from just wandering around the grounds. It’s so peaceful and quiet, you feel like you’re out in the country. Kids can run in the green space without any fear of getting too close to the road. With the short-cropped lawn, mosquitos should be at a minimum.

Just last summer a playground set was installed on the shrine’s grounds by a local Boy Scout and his troop. Located near the picnic area, it’s the perfect way to let kids swing and slide until the food is ready.

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The Picnic Pavilion and the ’40 et 8′ Boxcar

Inside the picnic barn, towards the back, is a large boxcar. Although it’s fairly unassuming and gray now, this is a memento from France, part of a post-WWII gift to say ‘thank-you’ to the United States for aid that was sent to war-torn Europe in 1947. Stop for a moment to read the information on the door of the boxcar, then look up more online. It’s truly a fascinating story, and you can actually touch a piece of history right here at the Veteran’s Memorial National Shrine.

If you’re visiting the Shrine on the weekend, there is a small museum filled with military mementos. It’s attached to the low, single-story house that fronts the property. Inside the museum you’ll find uniforms, medals, trunks, and other conflict memorabilia that span the twentieth and twenty-first century of American military history.

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Don’t miss the museum, featuring military momentos.

The Veteran’s Memorial National Shrine is an interesting mix of picnic space, memory grounds and museum material. If you want a good place with lots of people room, the picnic grounds are great. If you want something to keep the kids happy, bring along a ball and some hula-hoops – the swing set will be a hit, too. And if you want something for folks to think about, then check out the museum.

While the Shrine grounds are open all summer, you might want to call ahead to reserve the picnic space. Catching one of the custodians on the phone is a little tricky, so your best bet is to make the call on the weekend, near noon. Click here for the address and contact information for the Shrine.



Louisa is a lifelong Fort Wayne resident. A long-time musician and literature aficionado, Louisa likes to explore the classical music offerings that Fort Wayne has to offer. (She also likes to browse the Allen County Public Library's stacks for just the right book!)

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1 Response to "Picnic Grounds and Peace"

Jackie Bada
July 17th, 2014
Thank you for this information. We didn't know this existed and will definately visit the site. The kids swingset is a real help! Thank you!

Crafts, Collections, and More at the Allen County Fair

My favorite thing about going to the Allen County Fair is the crafts. As a former 4-Hr, I can predict that now is probably the time when kids are desperately putting the finishing touches on posters, cake decorations, barbecue projects and cooking masterpieces.

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Enormous cabbages and beautiful squash are on display at the county fair.

The Allen County Fair has come a long way since it began in the early 1980s. At first, there was only one building and a number of striped tent tops that  protected all the 4-H exhibits. But, over the past 15 years, a number of buildings have sprung up so that now, all the crafts and hand work projects are inside air-conditioned buildings with smooth cement sidewalks and floors between. What a switch from the days of crushed limestone and raccoons that liked to raid the cake displays!

In the first building  behind the Home Economics center, I really love to check out the collections. Stuffed toys, trading cards, key chains, and pencil collections have been on display before. The sewing displays, too, are so much fun to explore. Formals, pea coats, and a regular forest of simple a-line skirts and aprons are there, as well as the occasional suit or formal gown. The ‘crafts’ section takes up at least two, usually three rows of tables. This is where kids put in handmade needlework, fiber arts, bath tub buddies, gelatin soaps, thrown ceramics and anything else that could be simply designated as a ‘craft project.’

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Beautiful workmanship – and kids made these!

Photography – oh, so many of the pictures are excellent! Black and white close-ups of unique objects, color photos of field trips, salon prints in every hue of mat board – how on earth can the judges choose just one photo for that fluffy Champion ribbon? And if fun giftwrap is your thing, there’s plenty of inspiration piled onto tables behind the photographs. Empty packages are gift wrapped in everything from balloons to netting and, once, an ironing board with mop hair and cleaning supply gloves. That was a really nifty display.

If woodworking and pets are more what you like, stroll through the covered walkway, past the water fountains and 4-H office to the next building. There will usually be a row of fish tanks, a set of small animal displays – don’t tap the glass – and a parakeet or two. The interior decorating of each fish tank is always a treat to see; iridescent pebbles, tiny castles, a bubbling treasure chest, and other unique pieces are all added to create the perfect, tiny ‘world’ for a gold fish or guppy.

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One of the smaller rabbits at the fair – but cute!

And, there’s the woodwork area: really, these pieces are of professional grade. How can a kid make a parquet checkerboard? Or some of those large pieces, like the loveseat/coatrack combination? Or the perfectly smooth nightstand in polished wood? This building also houses the garden and flower arranging displays, and the models. Tiny fighter jets, shiny race cars and entire air force bases might be on display. And the flowers – corsages, bouquets, baskets and planters are set up in green profusion. The mini- and cloverbud-4H projects are set up on two long sets of tables, too: be prepared to see at least a dozen no-bake cookies, handmade pillows, an occasional Lego display and an insect collection. (Don’t worry, everything is fully enclosed so there will be no escapes!)

Nearby are the animal barns. A separate building is kept each for pigs, goats, cows/calves, horses, fowl and rabbits. Some of the turkeys on display are enormous! And they make the real turkey gobble – perhaps the only place you’ll hear that in Fort Wayne. The rabbits are probably the cutest animals there. There are so many varieties – Angora, Dutch, lopshire – you name it. Because the fair is in July, the animals usually have a number of fans aimed every which way, so that all creatures can keep cool – unless it is a chilly day. Then the fans are off and the big, open air windows are closed to keep it cozy. Plenty of food and water dishes are also in evidence, as the kids displaying their animals need to be there every day to care for their livestock.

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4H kids also show animals – here’s a boy practicing with the hogs.

If you’re looking for something fun and creative to view at the Allen County fair, I highly recommend the 4-H displays. Everything is so well-presented that you can’t help but glean a little inspiration from something you see! The Allen County Fair takes place July 22-27. For more information check out Visit Fort Wayne.



Louisa is a lifelong Fort Wayne resident. A long-time musician and literature aficionado, Louisa likes to explore the classical music offerings that Fort Wayne has to offer. (She also likes to browse the Allen County Public Library's stacks for just the right book!)

Putt-Putt Fun Center – Something for Everyone

Those colorful animals – any small child will want to know more about them. I did. There was a tall giraffe, a zebra, and an elephant that stood on top of something – a mountain? – behind the Arby’s restaurant. And then, I went miniature golfing.

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A friendly, little rhinoceros greets visitors to Putt-Putt golf.

Today, Putt-Putt Fun Center on Speedway Drive still has those friendly animals plus a real, fire-throwing volcano that goes off at any time. A waterfall, benches and some really pretty flowers are also scattered around the three sets of eighteen-hole mini golf.

Customers who enter Putt-Putt come in from the parking lot, walk through the arcade and out into the golfing area, where balls and clubs in a variety of lengths are stacked on the counter. Pay up at the counter for as many games as you wish, and remember to grab a score card with your ball and club.

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Main inside entrance to the Putt-Putt greens – see the caddy shack window beside the doors? That’s where you find the golf clubs, score cards, pencils and balls.

The golf course is open from mid-morning until after dark – tall, long lights provide enough illumination so that you can make a good putt and stay safe. There is some traffic noise as cars and motorcycles power past on Coliseum Boulevard or Speedway Drive, but overall, it is a peaceful place to spend some slow time in the sunshine. And full sun it is – take along some sunscreen. There’s usually a good breeze rippling across the greens, too, so if it is cool, you might want to bring a jacket. A tall fence surrounds the golf course, so stray balls won’t spin out into the street or parking lot.

The Saturday before Fathers Day had many family groups out on the courses. Dads and daughters, dads with several kids, grandparents, and whole families were enjoying some time outside on a warm and sunny day. The nice thing about mini golf is that you can take turns without having to learn a number of rules to win the game. It’s just point and putt!

Sign at Putt Putt 300x225 Putt Putt Fun Center – Something for Everyone

Don’t worry – the volcano is way up high, and the flame isn’t that big. You can keep playing golf around the volcano – if the noise doesn’t distract you!

Inside the building, Putt-Putt Fun Center offers customers a game arcade and a candy counter/toy shop. Tickets for the arcade machines can be purchased at the caddy counter outside. Inside, the toy shop has miniature golf sets, board games, stuffed animals and snacks – and acres of candy. On the Saturday I was there, near noon, the arcade was fairly well-lit, not filled with too many spooky, dark shadows as some arcades are. Basketball toss, video games, and a photo booth were all part of the many activities offered. An extended family was settling into the food booth area for a snack and some soda.

Putt-Putt Fun Center (click here for prices) is a great place to take the family for some low-pressure fun in the sun. The golf courses aren’t too challenging, so even the youngest putter should have fun with the smallest of clubs. And if your style is more sit and watch, then pick a handy bench and make yourself comfortable – there’s plenty of time.



Louisa is a lifelong Fort Wayne resident. A long-time musician and literature aficionado, Louisa likes to explore the classical music offerings that Fort Wayne has to offer. (She also likes to browse the Allen County Public Library's stacks for just the right book!)

Chalk Walk 2014 – The Beauty Beneath our Feet

With the Three Rivers Festival fast approaching, that also means this year’s Chalk Walk is just around the corner. One of the favorite events in the festival, the Chalk Walk, brings tens of thousands of visitors to the streets of Fort Wayne to watch the artists creating mind-bending masterpieces right beneath their feet. This year’s Chalk Walk will be held Saturday and Sunday, July 12th and 13th, in the heart of downtown Fort Wayne on main street, just in front of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, which is hosting the event.

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Chalk Walk 2013

Fort Wayne’s version of street paintings, the Chalk Walk is inspired by the Italian street painters of the sixteenth century. The Madonnari, as they were called, hailed from all over the country; many came into the cities to work on the cathedrals there. Once the churches were complete, the painters looked for other ways to earn a living and found the ground beneath their feet served as endless canvas space. Recreating images from the churches, like the Madonna, (hence their names) during certain holy days soon became a way to earn a few coins. The practice grew until soon many artists were coming together in the streets and creating blocks of impromptu masterpieces. Fast forward to the twentieth century and not only had the practice not faded away, it had begun to be endorsed by local governments and celebrated with festivals.

Here in the twenty-first century, Fort Wayne’s own Chalk Walk is not limited to professional painters and boasts a variety of subjects, styles, and artists. Local, regional, and even national artists of all ages will work diligently all day to create their own once in a lifetime masterpiece for visitors to enjoy. Visitors get the unique experience of watching the artists work and seeing the picture take shape before their very eyes.

Once all the works are completed, prizes will be awarded. This year’s awards are:

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Artist works on her “Despicable Me” submission

  • Trompe l’oeil – French for “fool the eye”
  • Fort Wayne Museum of Art’s 30th Anniversary in Downtown Fort Wayne
  • The Golden Age of American Bicycles
  • Depictions of Fort Wayne Museum of Art Outdoor Sculpture
  • Best Use of a Street Blemish (only for those with cracks and manhole covers in their square)
  • People’s Choice (voted by the attending public)

Be sure to vote for your favorite piece for the People’s Choice award! The Chalk Walk is enjoyable for people of all ages, so bring the family and come watch the streets transform into beautiful works of art before your eyes. While you are there, stop by Art in the Park, the popular juried fine art show and sale going on just further down Main Street.

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.