Nine-year-old Isabella Peterson, dressed in a T-shirt, tights and tutu, excitedly helped a group of younger children don tutus and try some ballet steps in Freimann’s Square Saturday.
“I really like ballet, you can go slow or fast, depending on the music,” Isabella, known as “Bella,” said, swaying and twirling before doing a backbend in the middle of the sidewalk.
Her public demi-pointes and pirouettes were not all that unusual, considering she was surrounded by musicians, tech geeks, belly dancers, artisans and even a fortune teller at Saturday’s Taste of the Arts.
This was the sixth year for the free event, which was expected to attract more than 25,000 visitors and has grown to one of downtown Fort Wayne’s largest single-day festivals.
Bella was helping other students of the New American Youth Ballet prep school in Fort Wayne introduce the world of ballet to interested visitors.
A student at St. Mary Elementary School in Avilla, Bella knows exactly what her future holds.
“Of course I’m going to be a dancer,” she said, serious for a mere second before laughing, snapping her fingers and breaking into a dance.
Another popular venue of the festival was the featured booths of 25 area restaurants and specialty food vendors which offered cuisine and beverages for only a few dollars.
The food was one of the best things about the festival, according to siblings Nadine and Natalia Moore and their stepbrother, Blake Ream, 12.
The kids chose their food carefully and then selected a shady park bench to sit while they ate.
“The food here is really good,” 14-year-old Nadine said.
Natalia, 11, was looking forward to browsing the many jewelry booths while Blake, who likes to draw and paint, enjoyed seeing the works of the many artists who filled Freimann Square and Main and Barr streets.
Arts United develops, coordinates and supports the arts and cultural efforts in northeast Indiana, and Taste of the Arts showcases the talents of hundreds of talented musicians, performers and artists.
This year, Artlink hosted the visual arts portion of the street festival, which featured 25 area artists, including artists from 10 surrounding communities and 13 Fort Wayne artists.
Nick and Giovanna Garlati of Fort Wayne have visited the festival every year with their two young daughters.
Garlati said her family often went home and rested a little while before returning downtown to enjoy the nighttime music and festivities.
“Every year it’s bigger and better,” Garlati said. “We live on the other side of town, but it’s well worth the drive.”