I have been involved in economic and community development on and off for more than a decade. I've participated in, led and listened to numerous discussions about the importance of attracting and retaining talent for our city and our region – to put Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana on the map, raising awareness of all the reasons this is a great community to call home and build a career, build a life. From Vision 2020 and Parkview Field to the Road to One Million and now the riverfront and the GE campus, community leaders continue to focus on the critical task of talent attraction and retention that is needed for growth.
For me, stepping up to help create the Middle Waves Music Festival has become the biggest, scariest endeavor-to-date to put Fort Wayne on the map. Joining forces with a rock-star group of smart and passionate volunteers who've devoted now two years' worth of blood, sweat and tears to take bold – but strategic – risks and pull off a two-day, 30-performer musical festival with both free and paid stages is one of our community's greatest chances to move the needle, to demonstrate that Fort Wayne is a place where talent of all ages lives and thrives. We are more than cool enough.
We are a part of the critical talent this community is talking about. And we have the power and opportunity to create the community and culture that we want to live in. We cannot and are not going to wait for others to do it for us. We aren't alone in this movement; you see it bubbling up across the city with unique events like the Hobnobben Film Festival, Broadway Street Stroll, Open Streets, Taste of the Arts, Fort Wayne Music Festival, Design Week Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne Free Art Collective and so many more, which join so many long-standing festivals and events that serve our region.
As volunteers working on a non-profit event, we can't do this alone. Fortunately for us, there are amazing community leaders and organizations, like Sweetwater, Knight Foundation, Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, Parkview Health, Old National and more who are championing us, supporting us and funding us to turn these bold ideas into real, tangible events that are transforming our community. And we hope that others are willing to join them through sponsorship, corporate ticket packages and more.
It is our hope that Middle Waves Music Festival demonstrates that the Road to One Million isn't just paved with the buildings and arenas that we build, but also by the transformative events we create, the new and emerging leaders we empower, the risks we are willing to take, and the mistakes and challenges we will inevitably be forced to overcome.
We hope you will visit our website to learn more about why this festival is so important to us and how we hope it helps to put Fort Wayne on the map. In the words of my co-chair, Matt Kelley, “Middle Waves is about capturing the momentum of northeast Indiana's music, arts, cultural and food scenes in one dynamic, diverse and dazzling two-day festival that provides incredible experiences for our entire community. It's our best Fort forward.”
Last year, our inaugural festival garnered a positive reaction on social media that was, frankly, almost overwhelming! And we believe this year's festival will be bigger, better, brighter and even more fun. We hope that you'll come out on Sept. 15 and 16 and see for yourselves, and let us know what you think.
Katy Silliman is co-chair of the Middle Waves Music Festival.