FORT WAYNE – The heavens were not kind to Saturday’s South Side Fest.
Within minutes of its 1 p.m. starting time, the sky opened with a vengeance, filling the parking lot at Ivy Tech Community College’s South Campus at 7602 Patriot Crossing with ankle-deep puddles.
The deluge delayed the set-up of several attractions for kids and kept food vendors and others under the cover of tents for about an hour.
But organizers said the event would go on – and fortunately, much of the early-afternoon action was indoors.
About 40 organizations manned booths and tables, while a dance competition and basketball tournament final were taking place.
James Scott, coordinator of the nonprofit Dreams to Life, a festival organizer, said a main focus of the event was highlighting businesses and services available to south-side residents.
The entire purpose was to have a platform to bring businesses and community organizations on the south side together, he said.
The event’s first year was 2009 and it was held at Rudisill Plaza until 2012. Last year, there was no event as organizers sought more strategic partnerships with organizations.
Cathy Maxwell, vice chancellor of academic affairs for Ivy Tech, a festival partner, said officials also hoped to raise visibility for the south campus, where the community college offers classes in its criminal justice, paralegal, business, energy technology and emergency medical programs.
We’ve been operating out of here for a couple of years now, she said. We wanted to bring visitors to this building on the south side so they would know that they don’t have to go to the north side to get to Ivy Tech.
Scott said the festival planned live music from 3 to 6 p.m. and would culminate with an official launch of the Real Change, Not Spare Change initiative of the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission at around 7 p.m.
Richard Cummins, the mission’s chief development officer, said the initiative aims to counter panhandling by providing information about local social services and alternative ways of meeting the needs of the less fortunate.
People can volunteer their time and give to organizations that can keep people from getting to the desperate stage, he said, rather than give money to individuals without knowing how it will be used.
You never used to see that (panhandling) in our community. While it’s very evident in big cities, it’s something rather new in Fort Wayne, he said.
We contend at the Rescue Mission that the good folks of Fort Wayne really care and want to be empowered to help.