If it's possible for sound to have texture – the kind a listener wants to run her fingers through – that sound is the hum and swell of the organ.
About 40 people gathered Tuesday in the sanctuary of Bethlehem Lutheran Church to listen to its organ and learn about its history. The church is one of seven stops on the Follow the Pipes tour this week, which is part of the Fort Wayne Newspapers Three Rivers Festival.
The event is in its ninth year and came about almost by accident. The event's leader, Pat Arthur, had volunteered to write a book for the Fort Wayne Chapter of the American Guild of Organists convention. She worked with an English professor at IPFW, and over a cup of coffee, Arthur discussed how many pipe organs she found in Fort Wayne. Her professor was amazed at the number.
"It was a passing comment," Arthur said, but her professor thought "it ought to be one of those things the city should be proud of."
From there, Arthur spoke with The History Center, which latched onto the idea. Her book was published in 2001, and Follow the Pipes started a year later as part of the festival.
Sandy Hellwege, a Fort Wayne woman who attended Follow the Pipes at Bethlehem Lutheran, said she's attending as many of the churches and other organ venues as she can.
"I appreciate when they play and you can really get a feel for what the organ sounds like," Hellwege said.
Andrea Hoverman of Fort Wayne has brought her spud booth to the Three Rivers Festival for 15 years. The idea behind it? To help send her daughter to college.
"This was always our favorite booth," said Hoverman, who had attended the festival for years before she started vending at it.
Her family bought into the booth with its previous vendor, who used the extra funds to send his children to school and finance his daughter's wedding, she said. She has since taken over the entire business.
On this particular Tuesday, Hoverman's booth is offering $2 beverages, which drew consistent customers even at 11:30 a.m., a time when Junk Food Alley is still pretty empty. The special is part of Two-fer Tuesday, a first-time event meant to draw festival-goers on an otherwise slow Tuesday.
"A deal's a deal," Hoverman said, "and I think what people are doing are smaller portions. You can literally sample your way around the festival."
Leslie Herrington, of Bryan, Ohio, manages five food booths at the festival. Her family has been vending there for 41 years. Her deals included a $2 small cotton candy at one booth, a $2 corndog at another and a $2 order of fries.
"Mondays and Tuesdays are pretty slow down here," Herrington said, adding that the deal is "great for families and kids. Hopefully, that'll … get them out here early in the week instead of just weekends."
Ye olde photo booth
The air conditioning inside Dave and Joan Kingry's trailer is a welcome break from the heat of a Fort Wayne July.
The costumes, meanwhile, invite you to play dress-up.
The festival is a stop on the way to the Ohio State Fair for the couple from Bradley, Texas. They're set up at the edge of the Downtown Midway presented by Sensodyne at Headwaters Park. It's the Kingrys' first time at the Fort Wayne festival, but they think they'll be back – business has been good, and people here are nice.
The old-fashioned sepia-toned photos give festival-goers an excuse to play make-believe, as the Kingrys have about a dozen set-ups to choose from – costumes with flowing skirts and laced-up corsets, lots of feathers and hats to make folks at the Kentucky Derby jealous.
The costumes are all open in the back, making them truly one-size-fits-all. The couple buy the dresses mostly from costume makers for at least $150 each, Dave Kingry said. Many of the hats – ornate with feathers, frill and tulle – can run $250, Joan Kingry said.
The two have been running their costume and photo booth for 39 years. When they started, things were different; not many similar businesses were in existence yet, and festivals weren't as political as they are today, Dave Kingry said. For example, years ago, he could send in his entry form and then pay the vendor fees when he arrived.
"Now, I need a deposit six months in advance and need proof of insurance," he said. "We have more expenses in a year than we used to make in a year."
The price of gas certainly adds to those expenses. Joan Kingry pulls the large trailer that houses the costumes and photo backdrops, while Dave pulls a smaller one that carries two automatic photo booths. With the two trailers, it costs about $1 a mile to travel to various fairs, Dave Kingry said. Texas to Fort Wayne is about 1,200 miles.
About six or eight years ago, the two switched to digital photography. Before, they used a true antique camera – a Kodak from 1902. They switched because the chemicals, which were made in Germany, stopped being made.
It's a business, sure, but the outcome is pure fun: Who doesn't want to be immortalized with his or her sweetie playing the bandit on the run or an old-time madam. Photos can be printed on a variety of backgrounds, including "Wanted: Dead or Alive, Reward: $100,000" and "Miss Bessie's Brothel: A Good Girl Is Good. A Bad Girl Can Be Better."