The Journal Gazette
Sunday, June 23, 2019 1:00 am

Our towns

Find bluegrass fun in Kendallville


If it's Memorial Day or Labor Day weekend and you're a bluegrass fan, Kendallville is the place to be.

For nearly 30 years, the Tri-State Bluegrass Festival has been bringing the finest in pickin' and fiddlin' to Kendallville's Noble County Fairgrounds.

Barbara Collins, festival secretary, says the music gathering started out with a few dozen people seated in the fairgrounds pavilion “and the bands played on a flatbed wagon.”

Things have progressed since then, she said. This year, 700 or so will likely attend each of the multiday events, according to TJ Collins, Barbara's husband, a festival founder and board member.

The fairgrounds, which also hosts the Noble County Community Fair in July, are a social and cultural center in the community of about 10,000.

So is the Kendallville Public Library.

The library organizes reading activities for youngsters, allows them to check out free fishing poles and tackle boxes and has monthly themed adventure walks, said Jenna Anderson, a Kendallville resident who works for the library.

Last month, the theme was ABC-3PO, based on a “Star Wars” alphabet book, she said. “We picked it for May because, well, May the 4th,” she said.

That's a wry reference to “May the Force be with you” from the movie and the newly popularized celebration of May 4 as Star Wars Day.

For the walks, the library sets up 18 stations in a loop around its grounds and in nearby Bixler Lake park. Participants follow the route to get stories or, in May, information about the alphabet.

May also saw the launch of Kendallville's first Fairy, Gnome and Troll Festival, spearheaded by two librarians.

The event adapts the adventure walks for both adults and children. Participants search throughout town for tiny doors to “houses” where the fanciful creatures “live.” Participants' cellphones then can unlock stories about the inhabitants.

And there were special attractions, including a mini-circus, on Main Street.    

The library's walks “combine reading and exercise,” Anderson said. “It's really gotten people engaged in the community.”

About Kendallville

Population: 9,848 (2017 census estimate)

County: Noble

Founded: 1863

• Named for Amos Kendall, a newspaperman from Kentucky who became eighth postmaster of the United States

• Home to two districts on the National Register of Historic Places, the Iddings-Gilbert-Leader-Anderson Block and Kendallville Downtown Historic District

• Location of the Mid-American Windmill Museum, which has over 40 windmills on display

• Birthplace of Alvin M. Strauss, architect of the Allen County Memorial Coliseum, Embassy Theatre, Clyde Theatre, and Lincoln Tower in Fort Wayne and the building in Auburn that now houses the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum.

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