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If you go
What: Fandana Festival with Chris Tomlin, Family Force 5, Over the Rhine, Britt Nicole and others
When: 11 a.m. to midnight today; 9 a.m. to midnight Saturday
Where: Huntington University, 2303 College Ave., Huntington
Admission: $48 in advance and $50 at the door for a two-day pass; $29 in advance and $30 at the door for a single-day pass. Children younger than 6 are free, children ages 6 to 10 can obtain a two-day pass for $10. Tickets may be pre-ordered at
Courtesy photos
Over the Rhine will perform at 6 p.m. Saturday at Fandana, a music and arts festival in Huntington.

Music, arts festival returns to Huntington

In 1978, the cultural critic and radical intellectual Frankie Valli observed, “Grease is the word. It’s the word that you heard. It’s got groove. It’s got meaning. Grease is the time, is the place, is the motion. Grease is the way we are feeling.”

It can only be assumed that Valli has spent the ensuing decades researching the next word.

I would like to suggest “Fandana.”

For Hoosier fans of music and summer fun, “Fandana” will be the only word this weekend, just as for Fandana organizers, the only word is the “Word.”

Fandana, a multiday summer music and arts festival with a Christian disposition in its second year at Huntington University, happens today and Saturday on the campus.

Multiday music and arts festivals are as rare in Indiana as topography, which is one of the reasons Fandana stands tall.

Fandana’s forerunner is Woodstock, of course, but it is really more closely allied to – and aligned with – such Christian music festivals as the now defunct Cornerstone Festival in Chicago and the Ichthus Music Festival in Wilmore, Ky., according to Jeff Berggren, senior vice president of enrollment and marketing at Huntington University.

Fandana will feature more than 50 bands and musical acts on four stages, a film festival showcasing both regional and national work and a small visual-art component that is destined for future growth.

Legend has it that Fandana was born after Midwestern concert promoter Peter Khosla wondered aloud a few years back why Indiana didn’t have more multiday music and arts festivals, and then apparently repeated it enough times that someone from Huntington University eventually overheard him.

Berggren says he, Khosla, and others at the school have tried to take the best elements of those aforementioned festivals and combine them with Huntington University’s unique characteristics.

“We have a variety of venues (at Fandana) because there was no reason to limit ourselves to putting everything on one stage,” he says.

The festival’s campus setting and proximity to a city center means comfort and dining options extend far beyond Porta-Potties and “I hope you brought some Hershey bars,” Berggren says. Campus housing will be open for fans seeking a room for a night or two, Berggren says.

Fandana is ostensibly a Christian festival, but Berggren says several of the musical acts involved (like Over the Rhine) appeal to a broader audience.

Nathan Hartman, coordinator of the film festival portion of Fandana, says some of the participating filmmakers make unequivocally Christian films, but that Fandana is ultimately interested in truth-telling in all its forms.

Among the short and feature-length cinematic work that will be showcased at Fandana is “A Cat in Paris,” a French animated comedy film that was nominated for an Academy Award, and a documentary on the band Family Force 5, which is also scheduled to perform live.

Hartman says the Digital Media Arts program at Huntington University has, in its seven years of existence, become the school’s most popular major.

He says the film business used to be run by “big men with big cigars.” But today, there are film and video jobs everywhere, often in places where they have never existed before.

“Everybody needs film these days,” he says.

Hartman says Dawn Ford, who worked on the sound for such films as “Return of the Jedi,” “Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom,” “The Right Stuff” and “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock,” will join the DMA faculty in the fall.

Fandana is already the largest event in terms of scope that happens in Huntington annually, and Berggren says townspeople were a little overwhelmed last year.

“They didn’t know what to expect,” he says. “Subway ran out of bread.”

Everyone will be better prepared this year, he says.

Huntington University has always had a great “town and gown relationship” with Huntington, Berggren says, but the school has had trouble luring people from Fort Wayne to events and offerings on campus.

Fandana may just change all that.

As for the word “Fandana,” Berggren says it was coined a few years ago during a brainstorming session at the Indianapolis branch of Cheeseburger in Paradise, Jimmy Buffett’s chain of casual dining restaurants.

This is not to say the word was inspired by Buffett any more than a cheeseburger served at the Indianapolis branch of Cheeseburger in Paradise is inspired by paradise.

Like Bonnaroo and any festival involving the suffix “-palooza,” Fandana “doesn’t mean anything,” he says.

“It is just meant to stick in your mind,” Berggren says.