Food Truck Rallies: The Fort through Food and Community

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Having recently moved to Fort Wayne I was incredibly excited to explore the Fort’s diverse neighborhoods and their accompanying restaurant offerings. Luckily I was offered the perfect outlet for doing both when seven of the Fort’s food trucks visited the south central Oakdale neighborhood, slinging pizzas, meats, frites, and ices. A parking lot with seven Food Trucks to sample? Yes please!

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The mobile cuisine craze that has been proliferating across the nation for nearly a decade landed squarely in the Summit City approximately two years ago. The mood here is communal and casual as customers lounge in the grass or share larger folding tables. The energy and camaraderie of those involved seems to be as infectious and inviting as though it were opening day. Neighborhood residents dip in and out of the crowd while others stick around to debate what exactly makes a Po’ Boy the “real” thing. Social media is the order of the day if patrons want to keep tabs on where and when their favorite truck is setting up shop and what specials are coming up.

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It is exactly this maneuverability, both culinary and geographical, that seems to attract the purveyors and patrons alike. What’s more, the amount of foot and bike traffic that accompanies these “Rallies” provides an opportunity to engage in conversation and, even more importantly, pick up a solid recommendation. It certainly helps this particular location is located on a street with one of the Fort’s three bike lanes. The crowd here is vocal and amiable, throwing out comments and making suggestions. If you’d like to get acquainted with a particular Fort Wayne neighborhood’s residents, this is a great opportunity.

Dan Campbell, one part chef/owner of Affiné, sings the praises of the relationships amongst food truck owners. Affiné also partners with the nearby Gunthrop Farms for pork, duck, and other meats. For Campbell, the benefit of these mobile kitchens is not only their ability to connect neighborhoods and businesses but also the flexibility allowed to his menu, always offering a chance to change things up and think outside the box.

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Duck Báhn Mí from Affiné

Thankfully this culinary caravan makes tracks all across Fort Wayne, stationing in different areas of town and occasionally outside some of the Fort’s favorite watering-holes. Chances are you can find Affiné outside of O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub on Thursdays. Bravas also posts up at The Brass Rail from time to time. On Thursday afternoon’s you can expect a number of these trucks downtown for One Summit Square where the lunch crowd rubs elbows…but only when taking a bite. Hey-Oh!

Check out the full list of Food Truck Rallies below and like the Fort Wayne Food Truck Association’s Facebook Page for more info:

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Food Truck Rallies:

Tuesdays, Northside Rally:

North Christian Church

5201 Camden Dr.

 

Wednesdays, Southside Rally:

Redeemer Lutheran Church

202 W. Rudisill Blvd.

 

Thursdays, Southwest Rally:

Lucky Harley Davidson

6315 Illinois Rd.

 

For more info on what you can expect, check out these posts from Holley and Lauren. You might (okay, definitely) want to follow those trucks on Twitter and Facebook to keep tabs on locations, times, and new specials.

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Andy Helmkamp

About

Andy is a recent arrival from Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he studied film theory and cultural criticism and spent time working with the Milwaukee Film Festival. There was also a lot of roasting and buying coffee thrown in there for good measure. Currently working for the Ft. Wayne Museum of Art and the Allen County Public Library, he's looking forward to exploring all the Fort has to offer. Chances are you'll find him at the Cinema Center, biking, writing, and running (from nothing in particular...weird right?), and pretending to know way more about craft beer than what he actually does.

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.

Mark Your Calendars for the 2014 Johnny Appleseed Festival!

A child clasping a bunch of dried corn husks, a glitter of sunlight on antique glass and the mouthwatering sight of dozens of Dutch ovens bubbling away over open fires – this must be the Johnny Appleseed Festival. It’s on September 20 and 21, this year.

Women in long, calico dresses, men in straw hats, and kids with all sorts of nineteenth-century gadgets will be at this event, which was created to celebrate the life of American frontiersman Johnny Appleseed. This man with a tin pot on his head planted dozens of apple trees throughout Midwestern America, and legend has it that Appleseed spent his final days here, in the Fort Wayne region under the care of local settlers.

In recognition of one of Fort Wayne’s most famous folk figures, the Summit City holds a festival in September, when the apple crop is at its peak. Everything ‘apple’ is here at the festival, along with a ton of other wonderful goods and finds.

Like music? Stroll over to one of several stages set up on the festival grounds. You’ll hear everything from Suzuki violin and cello players to banjo and voice combos. Cloggers kick up their heels to tunes like “Buffalo Gals Won’t You Come Out Tonight” and “Old Joe Clark.” Story tellers gather kids and their families to tell tales about animals and pioneers – with a fair amount of story stretching in the process.

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These are some of the colorful fresh flowers for sale at the Farmer’s Market at the Johnny Appleseed Festival.

But don’t think that this is only a performance-based event. No – if you like to shop, then put on your good shoes and prepare to be outside in the woodsmoke and sunshine for hours. There is a little bit of everything here. Want to find a pot of fresh mums to decorate your doorstep? Check out the Farmer’s Market. You can also purchase fresh vegetables, apples, cut flowers and pumpkins by the dozens.

Or maybe you like hand-crafted goods – well, step up to the rows of artisan booths, where hand-beaded necklaces, painted glass, silverware-turned-jewelry, and cute cabin night lights are all waiting to find a home. Potpourri, soaps made from goat milk, and a plethora of other household products can be found here, too. And don’t forget about the pottery and hand-fashioned metalwork – everything from shining copper to ebony cast iron is there, with the workmen and women present, to tell you how they completed each project.

Historical re-enactors camp out on the banks of the St. Joe River, where they routinely fire their cannons on the hour. For the most part, the re-enactors demonstrate Civil War practices and costumes, but you’ll also find some Revolutionary War and 1812-era costumes. Don’t forget to look for General Lee from the South – his gray uniform stands out strikingly against the dark blue of the many Union troops.

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Calico pioneer dresses at one booth, where customers are welcome to explore and purchase just the right frock.

And then there is the food. For some folks, this is the main draw of the festival. Giant containers of root beer are for sale – check out the keepsake blue and brown glass bottles.  Turkey soup, pork chops, barbecued sandwiches, lemonade, and caramel popcorn are some of the offerings. You have to browse along the rows of tents and perhaps ask the person ahead of you to find out what’s being made. If it smells good, undoubtedly, there will be a line – a long one. But it’s the Johnny Appleseed Festival – and coming to explore the event is free. Why not sample one of the best festivals that Fort Wayne has to offer?

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Mmm – smell the food cooking? These chefs use open fires and Dutch ovens to produce delectable dishes in the pioneer style.

Louisa

About

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!)

Fort Wayne Outfitters offers unique activities

Tucked away by the river in the historic Cass Street Depot – a building that looks like an illustration from an old fairy tale – lies Fort Wayne Outfitters and Bike Depot. This gem made its debut in Fort Wayne in 2007 and has been helping both residents and visitors alike to rediscover the joy of biking and the Fort Wayne rivers ever since.

FW Outfitters offers a variety of different rental options for your exploring pleasure. They have both standard and premium bikes on hand to rent. If you are just looking for a nice family outing and something different to do for an afternoon, the standard bikes should fit your needs perfectly. If you are more familiar with biking and would prefer to ride a mountain bike or specialty road bike, then the premium bikes are for you.

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For just $48, you can rent out a standard bike for the whole day! Take it out in the morning and watch the city wake up and start moving. Bike to one of the great downtown restaurants for a quick refueling break, and then see more of the city from the peaceful Rivergreenway.

Or, if you already have your own bike and want to bring that with you, the Depot is great place to start a ride. They will be happy to service your bike for you, regardless of brand, and make sure you are all set for a long ride. Pick up a cold drink to take along while you are there!

FW Outfitters also supplies visitors with kayaks, canoes, or stand-up paddleboards. See Fort Wayne in a whole new way from the river. No matter which way you’d like to travel, FW Outfitters has you covered. They have single kayaks as well as tandems and canoes. This is a great way to spend the day with the family and it will definitely be an experience they never forget. Single kayaks are only $40 for a whole day of river exploration.

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If you’d like to get outside but aren’t really one for canoeing or biking, try booking Captain Black’s pontoon tour. The tour will last two hours, departs from the depot, and travels along the three rivers. This boat ride for 12 is sure to be a great time. See the rivers and enjoy a great meal catered by Hall’s, one of the favorite local restaurants.

For more rates on rentals and a link to the Fort Wayne Outfitters and Bike Depot shop, check out their website. And, with its convenient location, there are hotels and a plethora of restaurants close by to make your trip planning easy. Check out some of our great packages for insider deals. Take advantage of the cooler summer we’ve been having and start exploring the outdoors!

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.

“In the Open Air” Cape Ann paintings at University of St Francis exhibit

The University of Saint Francis 2014 art season will open with a bang this year! The year will kick off on September 6 with the “Presidential Gala: Cape Ann Collection Connections.” Guests may explore the exhibit of historic paintings produced en plein air, or “in the open air.”

The Weatherhead Gallery in the Rolland Center for Art and Visual Communications will host a number of famous works by artists well known for their technique. Among the scenes of Cape Ann depicted in the work, there will be some picturing Gloucester and Rockport, Mass. Featured artists include Emile Gruppe, Aldro Hibbard, and Anthony Thieme.

As part of the exhibit, the Goldfish Gallery will display works by contemporary plein air painters of Cape Ann. Continuing the theme, the Artist Spotlight Gallery is hosting paintings inspired by visits to the Cape Ann region; a couple of Indiana artists will have work featured in this exhibit.

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Rolland Art Center

The Presidential Gala will include food, beverages, and live music in a covered outdoor setting in front of the Rolland Center on Leesburg Road. The event is free of charge, but there will be a cash bar on site for those who are 21 years of age and wish to partake.

In conjunction with the opening of the exhibit, artists and collectors Douglas Runyan and Fred Doloresco will be offering a lecture titled, “Cape Ann Collections: a Closer Look.” The lecture, which will take place on Wednesday, September 10, at 7:30 pm, will address the historical context of the Cape Ann plein air paintings as well as their tremendous influence on the art community and on the contemporary plein air art form.

The event promises to be a great night for anyone who loves art. And, if you can’t make the Presidential Gala, you can still see the exhibit on your own. The exhibit will run through October 5, and the gallery is open Mondays-Friday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am – 5;00 pm, and Sunday 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm.

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.