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!

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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.

Butterflies at the Botanical Conservatory

IMG 2384 300x300 Butterflies at the Botanical ConservatoryFrom now through July 6th,  visitors to the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory can experience the magical beauty of butterflies up close in the butterfly tent exhibit. Perfect for all ages, this popular butterfly exhibit is in its 11th year and showcases some of the most gorgeous species from Asia, South America, and everywhere in between. Free with regular conservatory admission, this is definitely a can’t miss for your family.

As you enter the tent, you are immediately surrounded by the brightly colored creatures high and low. If you’re lucky, they will pause just long enough to take a quick photo, and some even are so friendly they might land on you–something my toddler found complete delight in! This exhibit is special because it allows visitors to experience a creature in nature that is not always easy to get close to. The butterflies at the Botanical Conservatory are something we look forward to each year, and my family is able to see new species and have new special experiences each time we visit.

If you love nature, a visit to the conservatory is an ideal plan this spring–and if you love butterflies, you’re truly in for a treat. Experience the beauty and grace of these amazing butterflies, but check your clothing carefully upon leaving so you don’t accidentally bring home any “hitchhiking” butterfly friends!

Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory
1100 South Calhoun Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
(260) 427-6440



Born and raised in Indianapolis, almost nothing could move this downtown girl from her native Circle City—except true love. Deb now calls Fort Wayne home, and lives with her husband and their three amazing children in a cozy north side neighborhood. Armed with a Master’s in English, Deb was an editor for Northern Indiana LAKES Magazine, and a copywriter and proofreader for a local marketing and design firm. An avid reader, nature enthusiast, and amateur gourmet, she also loves to take walks and hikes with her family.

Fort Wayne Museum of Art deserves a second look

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The Fort Wayne Museum of Art features an impressive permanent collection, as well as traveling exhibits.

Though small in nature, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art is most certainly mighty. The exhibits featured are thoughtfully designed and will appeal to a wide range of viewers. I couldn’t remember the last time I attended the museum, though I think it was on a grade school trip, so I decided to venture there today and see what was it was like. I had no idea what I had been missing out on! The pieces there were really astonishing and incredibly interesting, and I ended up enjoying myself more than I had anticipated.

Vibrant colors and rich textures jump off the canvas and spring to life at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art’s latest exhibit, Biological Canvas. This exhibit, on display through June 22, features the work of three contemporary artists whose work is “on the cutting edge of an emerging trend to manipulate and reinterpret biological forms of subject matter.” When first walking into the exhibit, the bright hues caught my eye. Upon closer examination of the works, I found the juxtaposition of natural, biological, and mechanical, coupled with the power of innovation and imagination extremely intriguing. The variety of work encompassed in this exhibit leaves an impression, engages viewers, and is definitely worth a visit.

The first piece I saw upon walking into the exhibit was Scott Teplin’s “Tuber Natural.” This massive watercolor on paper looks like a giant bundle of the veins on a human heart. The piece grabs the eye with bright, pastel colors and keeps the viewer’s attention with the texture of the muscles in the tangle of veins. Teplin’s large works are impressive feats of artistic ability and truly breathtaking. Another interesting piece was an oil on wood panel titled, “Tales of a Dream Catcher,” by Yis “NoseGo” Goodwin. This painting features tigers as one of the central images, which appear suspended in a sort of dream state, floating in a mixture of particles and clouds. The image takes on a fantastical element with pops of bright color; it is a bit like looking into a kaleidoscope. Goodwin’s use of color and negative space bring the painting together and make it an image that will stay with you. The third artist featured in the exhibit has oil paintings as well as oil paintings overlaid on top of old photographs. It is these last images that are particularly interesting. The unexpected and unique pops of color give the images interest and a bit of a haunting quality.

The Biological Canvas is only one of four exhibits currently on display at the museum. There is also: Roseville – Art in Natural Form, which features pottery from Roseville, Ohio; Rims and Fins – The Golden Age of American Bicycles; and America’s Spirit – Evolution of a National Style, which features of variety of mediums including oil paintings, furniture, and clocks. All these exhibits offer a variety to visitors; the lines and structures of both the bikes, the pottery, and the furniture are intriguing and worth a second glance.

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Highlights of the Collections on display

The museum offers a manageable amount of pieces; it isn’t too large to bring the family along, and would be an enjoyable afternoon for attendees of all ages. The bright colors of the Biological Canvas exhibit along with some of the fun bicycles – like the Donald Duck bike – will keep kids engaged and entertained. Further, the prime location in downtown Fort Wayne, next to Freimann Square Park and close to all the great dining options, make it a great afternoon outing sure to not disappoint. If it’s been awhile, like it had for me, or you have never been at all, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art is well worth a second look!

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.