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THE LAST WORD

Maybe I'll see you downtown at the Three Rivers Festival

Saturday, July 13, 2013 - 12:01 am

While you are reading this, I may well be attending some event that is part of the Fort Wayne Newspapers Three Rivers Festival this weekend.

It could be browsing through the Antiques in the Park on Broadway or the Lawton Park Antique-Collectible Flea Market. I’m sure my wife will want to visit the Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana Barr Street Market, and we always wander through Art in the Park at Freimann Square and the Crafters Market nearby.

I love to see the chalk artwork in the Fort Wayne Museum of Art Chalk Walk on Main Street.

Most everyone eventually makes their way to Junk Food Alley for something to eat they might not normally be willing to purchase.

It’s supposed to be great weather for the opening events of the 45th annual festival that began Friday and continues through July 20. Maybe not so hot as many Julys gone by — certainly not as hot as last year.

It’s hard to imagine it’s been 45 years since the Three Rivers Festival began. And it’s good to see that one of the most popular events in its history is returning this year after 15 years on the shelf — the raft race.

It’s a good thing, because at one point it was said to be the second-largest outdoor event in Indiana, next to the Indianapolis 500. A combination of things sank the raft race in 1998, but wisdom prevailed, I think, in the persistence to revive something so popular. And with financial backing from Bruce Dye of Hotel Fitness and Bill Bean of Hanning and Bean Enterprises the event will take place on July 20 at 11 a.m. on the St. Marys River.

The raft race is just one of dozens of festival events, and TRF Executive Director Jack Hammer will remind you that 80 percent of them are free.

Over the years it has been encouraging to me just to see downtown Fort Wayne filling up with people actively engaged in the many festival events. We’ve sat many a year across the street from the Fort Wayne Newspapers building on West Main Street to watch the festival parade, and I’ve joined some of my colleagues to walk the parade route on some occasions. It was amazing to see the huge number of people lining the streets to watch.

That’s the case with a lot of the events, from the bed race to the Cornhole Classic to the Downtown Midway. The evenings downtown are fun, too, and we’ve enjoyed many of the music events at the Hanning & Bean Festival Plaza in Headwaters Park.

Like Parkview Field and the Fort4Fitness race, Downtown Improvement District events, music at the library plaza — it is just good to see the city becoming vibrant with activity and filled with people who are doing good things together.

The tradition of the Fort Wayne Newspapers Three Rivers Festival is a major contributor to those good feelings about being downtown.

Kerry Hubartt is editor of The News-Sentinel.