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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette With the Three Rivers Festival over, Christopher Jess, left, his brother Joel, and sister Sandra work Sunday on tearing down the Ben's Soft Pretzels stand in Junk Food Alley.

  • Despite some inclement weather last week, Three Rivers Festival Executive Director Jack Hammer deemed the 49th annual event a success, saying, “It went fantastic.”

  • Volunteer Sarah Winling removes banners at Headwaters Park on Sunday. Planning for the 50th annual Three Rivers Festival has already begun.

Monday, July 17, 2017 1:00 am

49th TRF is in the books

Festival 'went fantastic'

Organizers have begun planning for 50th year

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

The final numbers weren't in Sunday on the Three Rivers Festival, but its executive director didn't need data on attendance or revenue to know whether the weeklong event brought the community together in celebration.

“That's what we did,” Jack Hammer said in a mid-afternoon phone interview as people worked to restore Headwaters Park to its pre-festival condition.

The venue will host Fort Wayne Pride 2017 on Friday and Saturday.

A stationary Ferris wheel and concession stands that served Junk Food Alley delicacies, such as funnel cakes and hot dogs, were among the remnants that remained of the 49th annual event, which ended Saturday with a fireworks finale.

Strong years generally bring about 400,000 to 500,000 people to the festival, Hammer said. He expects attendance will be closer to 400,000 this year because of rain last week. The rains and rising water levels on the St. Marys River canceled Saturday's raft race.

But Hammer didn't let the inclement weather dampen his overall impression of the fest.

“It went fantastic,” he said.

Activities included helicopter rides, a family fun day, the bed race and the midway as well as HeART of the City, a new event that involved local artists. It coincided with Art in the Park's opening weekend in the Freimann Square parking lot.

“People loved it,” Hammer said.

Although this year's Three Rivers Festival is barely in the books, Hammer said organizers viewed the fireworks finale as the kickoff for the 50th run.

“What a benchmark that is,” he said.

Planning for 2018 has already begun, he said, explaining a year is not enough time to plan an event for a half-million people.

He encouraged people to volunteer for the 50th event, but added they don't have to do so quite yet.

“Let us get a couple good breaths,” he said.

asloboda@jg.net