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The Journal Gazette

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Melody Lake, 3, pets a rabbit Saturday during a Wildlife of Indiana demonstration at Sol Fest at Fox Island County Park.

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Liam Zahm, 6, flies a kite while his grandparents cheer him on during Saturday’s Sol Fest at Fox Island County Park. The annual two-day music festival, which continues today at noon, celebrates the sun and environment. Along with music, festivalgoers enjoy hayrides, vendors and other activities. See story on Page 1C.

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette SoarinHawk volunteer Ann Zepke shows off Apollo the great horned owl to families attending Sol Fest at Fox Island county park on Saturday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette SoarinHawk volunteer Ann Zepke and Apollo the great horned owl great families attending Sol Fest at Fox Island county park on Saturday.  

Sunday, May 06, 2018 1:00 am

Opening day at Sol Fest 'about as good as it gets'

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

Things were very much different last year at Fox Island County Park on the first weekend of May. And not in a good way.

Sol Fest, the annual celebration of the sun put on by Allen County Parks, was canceled after more than 2 inches or rain fell two days before the event was to begin. There was standing water in grassy areas, and a road to be used as an emergency exit was flooded.

This year, the event lived up to its name. The sun peeked through a light cloud cover, and temperatures were around 75 degrees.

Children played on the beach while others paddled kayaks on the lake. People sat on blankets on a hillside, listening to bands on a nearby stage. Families walked along trails through the park.

“This is about as good as it gets,” said Bob Dispenza, an Allen County park and education manager.

The yearly festival of food, music, education and the outdoors has been held about 17 years. Half of the money that's raised at the event is used to fund for the next year's Sol Fest. The other half goes to pay for scholarships for children to visit county parks.

Dispenza, whose regular post is at Metea Park on Union Chapel Road, said it is important for children to visit nature to learn about the environment.

The two-day event kicked off Saturday and runs through 7 p.m. today. Just after gates opened at noon, a steady stream of cars flowed down a winding road to a parking lot near the festivities.

Amy and Adam DeWyse sat at a picnic table, listening to music, as their son, 7-month-old Jacob, lounged in a stroller.

The DeWyses live near the park, they said, but neither had ever been to a Sol Fest. The weather and their proximity to the event – among other things – made it a perfect family outing, the couple said.

“We were going to go to the zoo, but it was really busy,” Adam DeWyse said.

Kathleen and Patrick Klerner were enjoying the festival with their nieces, Emma and Lillian Fisher, both 7. They checked out animal exhibits that included owls from Soarin' Hawk Raptor Rehabilitation Center when they arrived.

“We wanted to enjoy some time (with them) and show them the animals and nature,” Kathleen Klerner said.

“We're going to check everything out,” Patrick Klerner said.

Admission to Sol Fest is $5, and children 11 and younger are free. 

mleblanc@jg.net