Arts United's Taste of the Arts festival returns this weekend with a larger footprint that will take visitors along an “arts trail” through downtown Fort Wayne.
Though the expanded footprint, which extends from Arts Campus Fort Wayne to Promenade Park on Saturday, will help with social distancing during the pandemic, director of communications Rachelle Reinking says the annual festival was running out of room on the arts campus so now was the right time to grow. Set up as a series of block parties and connecting nodes – each with its own lineup – spacing out the venues also helps reduce sound contamination between the festival's nine stages of area performers.
From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Taste of the Arts will include more than 50 performances by acts such as Fort Wayne Civic Theatre, Fort Wayne Children's Choir, Heartland Sings, Fort Wayne Ballet, Fort Wayne Dance Collective, Sunny Taylor, Jake Gamble, Jeff Myers, Rainee Perdue and Fields and Fortresses. More than 20 local restaurants, food trucks and brewers including Banh Mi Pho Shop, Kona Ice, Chapman's Brewing Co. and Shigs in Pit will also sell food and drinks.
Unlike previous years, festivalgoers will purchase food directly from vendors instead of buying food tickets, the revenue from which was split between Arts United and the restaurants. Performers will also be compensated for their time instead of volunteering.
Arts United wants to make sure it is supporting performers and restaurants during the pandemic.
“Both the gig economy and the restaurant industry have faced a lot of challenges” since the start of the pandemic, Reinking says. Arts United reshaped how sponsorships were done so performances were sponsored and performers could be given a stipend.
Arts United also organized the Taste a la cARTe restaurant passport program that began Sunday and runs through Tuesday. People who visit one of the eight participating restaurants can return their passport to Arts United to be entered in a drawing for a prize pack worth more than $1,000.
In addition to performance stages and food, Taste of the Arts includes the STEAM Park in Freimann Square. The family favorite with activities for kids includes more than 30 booths from local organizations.
Though Reinking says Arts United is excited to welcome people back in-person this year, the organization knows not everyone will be able to attend. There will be some virtual STEAM activities for families that can't make it out to the festival or aren't comfortable gathering during the pandemic. Arts United also plans to make available professional videos of performances filmed last year when the festival went virtual.
For more on Taste of the Arts and to register for Taste a la cARTe, go to TasteFW.org.
If you go
The black box theater inside Auer Center for Arts and Culture, 300 E. Main St., will have a performance stage starting at 11:30 a.m. with Fort Wayne Suzuki Strings. Other performances include Fort Wayne Youtheatre, Broken Pencil Improv Comedy and the Memorial Park Middle School 8th Grade Combo.
The 300 block of Main will be closed to traffic for this block party with a performance stage, restaurant and brewer stations and Artlink's Art Market with about 20 vendors.
Performances begin at 11 a.m. with The Paper Heart and include Damage, Adam Baker & the Heartache and Fields and Murmurations.
Arts United Center
This block party includes the inside stage of Arts United Center, 303 E. Main St., and a stage on the center's plaza. There will also be restaurant and brewer stations.
Indoor performances start with Fort Wayne Ballet at 11:30 a.m. and include South Side Dance Co., Fort Wayne Dance Collective and Mikautadze Dance Theatre. Outdoor performances begin with Heartland Sings at 11 a.m. and include Fort Wayne Civic Theatre, Summit City Music Theatre, Fort Wayne Children's Choir and Aleena York with Blue Pluto.
More than 30 booths will be set up for the STEAM Park with arts and sciences activities for children.
There is also a performance stage that starts at 11:30 a.m. with Donna Mansfield and includes Ross Kinsey, Jared Schneider and Maumee Mary & Joseph Comedy.
Located behind Rousseau Center, 1 E. Main St., the recently renovated plaza is a connection node on the Taste of the Arts trail Saturday. It will include vendors, buskers and a performance stage.
Performances begin at 11:30 a.m. with Vocal Power Studio and include Kibwe Cooper and Lydia Tremaine, Jaina Berry and SunnyTaylor.
The block party on West Columbia Street includes a performance stage, food stations from restaurants on The Landing and the installation of a crosswalk mural by artist Adam Garland on Calhoun Street between the Rousseau Center and The Landing.
Performances begin at noon with the Debutants. Midnight Mimosas and Rosalind & the Way will also perform.
The block party at Promenade, 202 W. Superior St., includes a daytime performance stage in the pavilion and food trucks.
Performances at the pavilion start at 11 a.m. with Fort Wayne Taiko and include the American Legion Band of Fort Wayne, New Horizons Band and the Old Crown Brass Band.
The festival wraps up at the park as Julia Meek presents a WBOI Meet the Music concert from 5 to 9 p.m. in the bandshell on the park lawn with Jess Thrower, Alicia Pyle and Friends, and the Legendary Train Hoppers.
Also to see
• Fort Wayne Artists Guild's Kekionga Plein Air Event will have artists spread through downtown painting live. The guild will be set up in the parking lot of the Barret McNagny law firm, 215 E. Berry St., throughout the day with paintings to view and purchase.
• Fort Wayne Museum of Art and The History Center are offering free admission during the festival.
• The YLNI Farmer's Market is extending its hours to 3 p.m. Saturday.
• Storytellers from The Human Library will be inside Arts United Center.
• Purdue University Fort Wayne's Department of Art and Design will host a virtual reality art installation by Andres Montenegro and Audrey Ushenko in the Arts United Center lobby.