A few years back, a city organization hosted a downtown event called Beach Blast that was as ingenious as it was unrepeated.
Some people might say that an ersatz, coastal-style beach party is as necessary to living a full-and-rich life in Fort Wayne as an ersatz Midwestern winter carnival is to the potentially full-and-rich lives of Fort Myers, Fla., residents.
Some of those same people apparently work at IPFW because a beach party has been added to RiverFest this year.
RiverFest 2012 happens on campus Saturday in parking lots along the banks of the St. Joe River.
Sarah Payne, the project manager for RiverFest, says 44 tons of sand will form the base of, and lend credibility to, this beach party.
Water-based activities, Payne says, will include giant hamster balls (apparently made for rodents that most of us hope we never encounter) and an inflatable log rolling competition (featuring inflatable logs, presumably, not inflatable competitors).
Sand-based activities will include a Euro Bungee Jumper, a device that combines bungee jumping and trampolining, and beach volleyball tournaments, Payne says.
Local artist Sayaka Ganz, who makes art from discarded materials, will unveil a sculpture at 10 a.m. today that was created partly from metal objects salvaged from the St. Joseph River.
The sculpture is made of scrap metal, Ganz said in an email, some taken out from the river on Earth Day by volunteers and some donated from OmniSource and some from my inventory.
Payne says Ganzs commemorative piece to the rivers will segue from being a special event at RiverFest to having a permanent home along the banks of the St. Joe.
Pontoon boat rides and kayak and canoe rides and races will return to RiverFest this year, Payne says, as will ArtFest, FoodFest, FamilyFest and FireFest (featuring displayed art, food, family activities and water-based pyrotechnics, respectively).
MusicFest, previously known as RockFest, had been expanded this year to include more musical genres, Payne says.
Weve changed the name to be more reflective of the musical tastes of the people who come to RiverFest, she says.
The zip line will not return this year for a variety of logistical reasons, Payne says.
Now we can say the festival is totally free, Payne says. The zip line cost $10 per ride.
Folks may want to wander down to the Venderly Family Bridge at 1 p.m. where they might catch sight of something they never expected to see in their lifetimes: IPFW Chancellor Michael Wartell, Deputy Mayor Mark Becker and Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters going tubing together, Payne says.
Payne says RiverFest was so popular last year (an estimated 20,000 people attended) that some vendors were overwhelmed.
Everyone will be better prepared this year, she says.
The mission of RiverFest, Payne says, is to protect, promote and preserve the rivers and to encourage people to get out and enjoy them.
Payne says city residents used to think of our rivers only when they were driving over them on bridges, but RiverFest has helped open their minds to other possibilities.