FORT WAYNE — At a harvest festival, it would make sense that attendees would rave about the food.
The inaugural edition of the Celebrate Your Culture Harvest Festival on Saturday at Packard Park along Fairfield Avenue was a modest affair, organizers said, with only three food trucks and two restaurants participating, but those who tried their wares were pretty pleased.
“The food here has been fabulous,” said Sara Osbun of Fort Wayne, who had just sampled a flash-fried soft-shelled crab – a rarity so far inland – from Big John’s Ragin’ Cajun food truck.
Osbun said she had never had one of the chewy, crunchy crustaceans before. “But I will again,” she said.
She had also sampled chicken curry soup, a pumpkin whoopee pie and cranberry-white chocolate scones, all from The Friendly Fox, another food vendor.
“If I hadn’t run out of money, I would have continued,” she said.
Other attendees sampled Ragin’ Cajun’s fried catfish and crawfish etouffe, “Hoosier style,” and gourmet BLT&A sandwiches from the Affine food truck, which features a graphic of a big pinkish pig with its edible parts labeled in Italian.
The sandwich contained avocado and spinach as well as goat cheese, bacon and heirloom tomato slices and was pronounced delicious, as was the brisket ’n’ beans being served up by Shigs ’n’ Pit.
Selling food from its back lot at the corner of Fairfield and Kinsmoor avenues was the festival’s other food vendor, the Dug Out.
Attended by about 200 people, the event also featured entertainment – Celtic music by Dave & Trinity; comedy/folk/blues by Mark Turney; jazz by Michael Patterson; and dancing by the Amanecers de Mexico (Sunrises of Mexico); Raq the Rivers belly dancers; the Mon Burmese Dancers; and a group of Burmese break dancers from the Boys & Girls Club of Fort Wayne.
Pat Turner, an event organizer, said it was sponsored by the Packard Area Planning Alliance with a grant from Pathfinder Services Inc.’s Community Connections program.
Pathfinder has given grants for two other events in the 46807 neighborhood this year – a National Night Out crime prevention event in August and an upcoming open house at a new art gallery in the former Casa D’Angelo restaurant on Fairfield.
She said ideas for improving the area will also be the subject of a Nov. 10 meeting at a location to be announced.
Turner pointed to a proposed $5.2 million new housing complex for young people who age out of the foster care system at the site of the former Duemling Clinic at Fairfield and Home avenues, new street lighting on Fairfield, the Love 46807 initiative and several new businesses-as-revitalization points.
“So, yeah, things are happening in 46807,” she says. “It’s a very diverse community. There are large numbers of Hispanics, Burmese, African-Americans. The demographics have changed, and that’s one of the pluses of the community.
“The neighborhood is so inclusive, that’s why it’s so good,” she added. “We want to go for great.”
She said the festival would “absolutely” return.