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Taste Of The Arts Festival Adds Friday Night Kick-off

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Courtesy/Arts United
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This year's Taste of the Arts features 11 stages, 47 arts organizations and 32 restaurant & beverage vendors

Fort Wayne's 8th annual Taste of the Arts Festival kicks off tonight. Celebrating the local arts and culture scene is a well established community tradition. WBOI's Julia Meek looks at the history of the arts festival, how it's evolved, and what visitors can expect to "taste" this weekend.

Fort Wayne's first Fine Arts Festival was in 1958, at Franke Park. It continued as a popular summer mainstay through 1975. In the following decade, arts activities were simply blended into the Three Rivers Festival.

IPFW's Forte Festival took up the "cultural cause" briefly, from 1986 to 1990. And then, in 2009, Arts United reinvented the concept, with a community-wide Taste of the Arts Festival.

In its first year, Taste of the Arts had 35 performances and 12,000 festival goers. Today it has grown to over 80 cultural offerings, with an expected attendance of more than 30,000.

Arts United's Vice President of Community Development, Dan Ross, says those figures tell the festival's success story pretty well.

"The community-wide support of people who come into downtown Fort Wayne, to experience what these arts and cultural organizations bring to the life of the community--it's hard to believe that it has grown to the level that it has."

The festival has also grown to a two-day event, and tonight's official kick-off includes a live WBOI Meet the Music outdoor concert, and a screening of "It Happened One Night" on the Arts United Plaza.

This year also features 11 stages, 47 different arts organizations, and 32 restaurant and beverage vendors. 

You can find a full list of festival events at the Arts United website.

A Fort Wayne native, Julia is a radio host, graphic artist, and community volunteer, who has contributed to NIPR both on- and off-air for forty years. Besides being WBOI's arts & culture reporter, she currently co-produces and hosts Folktales and Meet the Music.