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An antique fire engine was part of the festival parade.

Three Rivers Festival issues wrap-up report

Statement as issued Monday by the Fort Wayne Newspapers Three Rivers Festival:

Fort Wayne, Indiana – The 45th Annual Fort Wayne Newspapers Three Rivers Festival, along with its Board of Directors and Staff, is proud to announce a very successful 2013 Festival.

Highlights from this year's Three Rivers Festival include a visit from The Indianapolis Colts on Friday July 12th. Thousands of Colts fans came out to show their support and meet players and cheerleaders.

People were staking out their favorite vantage spots for the Lutheran Health Network Parade fourteen hours before the parade kicked off, for a beautiful sunny day with thousands of smiles from an estimated 50,000 families in attendance. The "Made Here" theme, in cooperation with Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and Vision 20/20, encouraged creativity in over 150 parade entries; Best overall float winners were Sharon's House of Victorian Gifts and Windsong.

An estimated 20,000 visitors admired the best from fine artists from across the country at Art in the Park presented by Hanning & Bean, Baker Street Office Furnishings and Walgreens.

Weekday Festival fun included 40 contestants vying for cash in STAR Financial Bank's "Make me a STAR!" Talent Contest. Dancer Dylan Wilson took top prize in the adult division, and Salena Boudreau dazzled the judges as the "Shooting STARS" youth division winner.

The Trolley Bar "Trolley By Golly" team outserved runner up teams from Applebees and Chops to snag the coveted 2013 Waiter-Waitress trophy and cash at Monday's contest, sponsored by Visit Fort Wayne and Sysco.

On Wednesday, the legendary Bed Race presented by Max Fitness thrilled 10,000 visitors lined up on Main Street to watch DeBrands team sweat their way to another First Place win, with Dawgz Dogs team winning the Junior Division. The Fort Wayne Fire Department's water squirting entry charmed the crowds to win People's Choice award. Mustard Seed Furniture Bank's "Beds for Kids" program was able to purchase two new beds, thanks to the donation of the Bed Race's People's Choice voting proceeds.

International Village's ten participating countries entertained visitors in a new location next to Food Alley, featuring song and dance throughout the final Friday and Saturday. Delicious ethnic foods and handmade crafts created by our neighbors from all over the world were enjoyed for this third year event, thanks to the support of Wells Fargo and Downtown Improvement District.

And if you were looking for shopping? Over 100 vendors offered choices galore with unique apparel, melodious wind-chimes, antler carvings, gadgets and custom jewelry, delighting 30,000+ shoppers at Freimann Square's Crafters Market and Headwaters Park Marketplace with bargains and one-of-a-kind finds! The first-time vendor from New York with the "Build Your Own Drum" booth was a big hit!

Junk Food Alley satisfied the cravings of 90,000+ fest-goers with old time favorites of gooey fried cheese, elephant ears and lemon shakeups, while tempting many to try new treats like Deep Fried Bun Bars and Bacon Maple Funnel Cakes. New to Food Alley this year was Ben's Pretzels from Shipshewana, who delighted the crowds with their hand-rolled soft pretzels.

Children's Fest presented by PNC hosted approximately 20,000 kids and families on the final Friday and Saturday, with two days of free games, entertainment and activities on the IPFW campus. New this year on Saturday was the Kids Fun Run presented by Parkview, giving hundreds of kids fitness and healthy lifestyle tips and treats along a 400-meter course.

The nights were warm and the Music was hot in the Hanning & Bean Festival Plaza, with great musical acts like Mustang Sally, Jackyl, MercyMe and Sevendust. Pink Droyd performing Dark Side of the Moon capped nine days of great festival entertainment, with the most spectacular light and laser show ever seen in Headwaters; the music paused only long enough for Saturday's record size crowd to enjoy the Three Rivers Festival Fireworks Finale.

As one of the largest pyrotechnic displays in northern Indiana, thousands of shells comprise the dazzling Fireworks Finale made possible by the TRF Founders Club, a group of local businesses committed to keeping the sparkle and boom in our community's biggest summer celebration. Founders Club members include C. Henry Steel, Ehlerding Motorsports, Fort Wayne Tin Caps, Fort Wayne Metals, Hanning & Bean Enterprises, Hires Automotive, Indiana & Michigan Power, Palmer Trucks, Parkview Health, Pizza Hut, ProFed Credit Union, Ruoff Home Mortgage, SportOne Parkview Fieldhouse, Steel Dynamics and Sweetwater.

By popular demand was the long-awaited return of one the Three Rivers Festival favorite events, The Raft Race presented by Hotel Fitness! After a 15 year hiatus, thousands of excited spectators lined the Saint Mary's riverbanks and bridges to welcome back the Rafts to the Three Rivers Festival! Almost seventy rafts and 400 sailors took to the water for a memorable day and $14,000 in prizes. Top winning rafts included a WWF wrestling ring, a fire-breathing dragon Viking ship, a floating replica of the Historic Wells Street Bridge, and a handmade Viking canoe.

The Raft Race was made possible by the gracious gifts given by Bruce Dye of Hotel Fitness and Bill Bean of Hanning & Bean Enterprises. Mr. Bean also presented the Three Rivers Festival this year with the single largest gift in its 45 year history.

Three Rivers Festival is grateful for the 100+ generous Sponsors that have supported this community celebration for 45 years. Fort Wayne Newspapers, Hanning & Bean, Hotel Fitness, Lutheran Health Network, PNC Bank, Parkview Health, Sweetwater, Wells Fargo, Meijer, AALCO, STAR Financial Bank, Vera Bradley, IAB Financial Bank and many others all deserve a hearty "Thank You" for all they have done to nurture and grow this beloved 45-year Fort Wayne tradition.

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