Why is it that all events, fast foods, movies, and television shows are better in the first few years, than afterwards?
Look at McDonalds, after all. In the beginning, when that hamburger was 15 cents it melted in your mouth, it was so wonderful. Maybe, there was real meat then, or maybe the grease had not built up so much on the frying pans that a person could still taste the food, and not the oils. In those days, of course, no one thought much about trans fats, and for 15 cents, who would have cared?
Now let’s look at movies. I just don’t think that a movie like Notes on a Scandal can compare to Casablanca. Am I comparing apples and oranges? Well, come on, they’re both love stories.
And to really drive my point home, can any of us think for one moment that Scrubs is better than I Love Lucy?
So, why am I bringing all of this up?
For the past 39 years, Fort Wayne, Indiana has hosted a festival that is supposed to celebrate the city and its people. The Three Rivers Festival has grown a lot in those thirty-nine years. What was once a wonderful commemoration of Fort Wayne’s local people and business, has become the 2nd largest festival in the state of Indiana. What was once a festival put together by a few local citizens and a dream, now requires a full time Three Rivers Festival Staff with a fully paid executive director.
I was able to ask the Executive Director, Shannon White a few questions about the Three Rivers Festival, and find out his take on the festival and how it works today. I felt it would be an interesting perspective, since Shannon has not lived in Fort Wayne most of his life, and therefore can only know the history of the festival second hand.
First, I asked Shannon what he felt was the best contribution that the Three Rivers Festival brought to Fort Wayne. Here is his reply:
White) There are many great things that the Fort Wayne Newspapers Three Rivers Festival brings to this region; the one thing that I feel is the most important is exposing the entire community to a variety of arts, music, dance, and theatre. The cultural impact that the festival has is huge.
In 2006 the festival, in cooperation with many different organizations, including Arts United and the Downtown Improvement District, had shows from over 90 local and regional musicians, dancers, and performers. The Festival of the Arts had over 100 fine artists displaying and selling, Crafters Market had 60 crafters, and the Fort Wayne Museum of Art’s Chalk Walk continued to draw a huge crowd.
The festival is composed of many diverse events. Again, the cultural impact and the drawing together of the entire community is the best contribution that the festival brings to Northeast Indiana.
I found this answer pretty sad, since he had obviously written this on a can of Campbell’s Soup. Each event was preceded by their sponsor, so the sponsor would get full exposure. I suppose that’s the way the world walks today, so he cannot really be put to task for that. But, in the end, the line about what the festival brings to Northeast Indiana showed me that in reality this festival will never be about Fort Wayne, again. If the people who run this festival every year had their way, this festival would be called the Every River in America Festival.
I also asked Shannon the following question about one of my favorite parts of the festival and most lifelong resident’s favorite as well. This part has always been called Junk Food Alley. Now, I don’t know why for sure, but now it is called Sprint PCS Food Alley. Perhaps Junk Food is not politically correct. But, I am here to tell you, elephant ears probably have as much fat in them this year as they have always had in the past. And the deep fried vegetables are not cooked in olive oil. If they were, most Fort Wayne residents would probably spit them out in their napkins. So, here is his answer to my questions, both as written.
ABS) Please give a history of the Spring PCS Food Alley, which is the biggest event of the festival?
White) Please be more specific food has always been apart of the festival.
Well, I guess that says it all, doesn’t it?
In the beginning, there were 15 cent hamburgers, and I Love Lucy, and Casablanca. In the beginning, The Three Rivers Festival attracted 100,000 people, most Fort Wayne residents, who just got a kick out of seeing a parade with their kids, and watching local celebrities make fools of themselves, and their marching bands go by with trombones off-key. In the beginning, no one was too afraid they would be shot when they walked around at Junk Food Alley, or went to the Raft Race with their friends.
Now, there is no Raft Race, Junk Food Alley has turned into Sprint PCS food alley, and the Executive Director informs the public about the historical significance of the festival with an eye towards his next job out of town.
Am I a little cynical. Not really. Just a person who used to love a festival that celebrated Fort Wayne, not each sponsor with the biggest pot ‘o’ gold.