Fort Wayne rose to prominence as a hub for trade and commerce during the mid-19th Century with the opening of the Wabash-Erie Canal. Today, its small-town vibe, unique brand of culture, and a long list of attractions make it ideal for an Indiana getaway. The three-time All-America City Award winning city boasts a high quality of life combined with a low cost of living making it suitable for any traveler. Those looking to experience the unique local culture should check out the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, The Embassy Theatre, and The Old Fort.
The Michiana Wine Festival is entering its second year of showcasing Indiana’s finest wines, and it will take place April 28 at Headwaters Park in downtown. This year’s event will feature over 100 wines for sampling from more than 16 of the top wine producers in Indiana. Some favorite local wineries in attendance include Buck Creek Winery, Ertel Cellars Winery, and Cedar Creek Winery. The Festival features a 5k run through the beautiful downtown area, finishing at Rudy's Shop where participants can enjoy wine samples, live music, and light snacks. At the main event, attendees can sample a variety of wines while enjoying meals and bites from some of the area’s top food trucks. Patrons can also listen to live music performances by local favorites such as Hubie Ashcraft, Sunny Taylor Music, and more. The Spring Craft Market will have multiple local vendors selling a variety of items including handmade Haitian jewelry by Bel Koz & AttH. Those looking for an enhanced experience should purchase a VIP ticket, which includes early entry to the event, access to the VIP area, and gifts. We interviewed Event Director, Nichole Thomas, to learn more about this dream event for wine lovers.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
NT: This is the second year for our festival. We came up with the idea after visiting many wine festivals across the state and local beer/wine festivals. We wanted to bring an event to the area that would focus on wine produced by Indiana's 90+ wineries.
RAL: How many annual attendees do you draw?
NT: The first year drew roughly 2,500, and we plan to welcome many more in 2018.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?
NT: Our event is strictly 21 and over, and primarily female (88%). We see a lot of female friends enjoying a girl's day or celebrating a bachelorette party or shower. Many couples attended, too.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
NT: We are the first outdoor spring festival at Headwaters Park. It's an opportunity to get out and enjoy the outdoors with the backdrop of the river after a cold winter.
RAL: Take me through a day at the event. What can I expect as an attendee?
NT: The most-anticipated activity is the wine sampling. With a general admission or VIP admission, attendees can sample wine from each winery in attendance (16 wineries at this time). Each winery will offer four to eight samples. In addition to the wineries, we'll have a spring craft/gift market with many hand-crafted items, as well as direct sales such as Scentsy, Pampered Chef, and others. We'll also have live music on our festival stage, sponsored by Sweetwater. Local favorites will perform throughout the day. The lineup includes Jon Durnell, Sunny Taylor, Hubie Ashcraft, Samuel Harness, and the Bobby Swag Band. Folks can also stop by and learn something new in our festival event tent, sponsored by 3Rivers Federal Credit Union. We are currently scheduling programming, but so far we have salsa and bachata lessons from Fort Wayne Salsa and Bachata, a wine and food pairing demonstration with The Olive Twist, and a fashion show featuring Sugarlove Boutique's spring lineup.
RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?
NT: We'll have up to 10 food trucks on site including local favorites like Who Cut the Cheese?, Affine, Head2Hock, Ziffles Zip 'n Go, Bravas, Big Apple Pizza, Rico Suave Mexican, Wicked Good Cupcakes, and more!
RAL: Tell us about the overall atmosphere?
NT: We have a laid-back atmosphere that encourages folks to grab a glass or bottle of wine (or slushy!) and a spot on the lawn to listen to some local musicians, or sip on wine while shopping for hand-crafted goodies. We want to have something for everyone.
RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up for the event?
NT: We have a partnership with the Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Fort Wayne. They're offering $199 per night including overnight accommodations, breakfast for two and two festival tickets. Guests also receive Marriott points.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
NT: This event is meant to shine a light on our beautiful downtown, using a variety of downtown partners to provide goods and services for the event. We also encourage folks to come down and spend the weekend. We know they'll love it and will want to come back often.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
NT: We offer a full day of fun (12:00-6:00 pm) for one price ($30 general admission, $10 designated driver). We have wine, shopping, food, music, and interactive demonstrations. Why not come out and enjoy the first festival of the spring at Headwaters Park?
For more information about the Michiana Wine Festival, please visit the event website.