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Festival Warms Up Fort Wayne


Photo credit: Provided by: Ted Pappert

Written by: adminFebruary 01, 2017

By: Joshua Storrs

In the cold winter, Weather the Fort invites Fort Wayne residents outside to get warm. The festival aims to brighten the mood with drinks, food and a myriad of artistic performances, such as fire dancing, ice sculpting and live music.

The festival takes place from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Feb 11 at Freimann Square. This is the second year for Weather the Fort.

Ted Pappert and John Felts are the co-founders and organizers of the event.  The two felt compelled to do the event again after the first year went much better than expected, Pappert said.

“We had the expectation that we’d get maybe 500 people. We ended up with over 2,500,” Pappert said. “We had a lot of fun doing it so we thought we had to do it again. We’re really excited for this year.”

Pappert said the impetus for organizing the festival came from looking at the city’s annual events and seeing that most of them were in the summer months.

“We thought, rather than complaining about winter, saying there’s nothing to do, let’s embrace what Indiana’s winter is and have a little fun… what better time than February?” Pappert said.

A huge hit at last year’s Weather the Fort was the performance from a company of fire spinners called Pyroscope Entertainment. Felts saw the company perform at the Taste of the Arts festival and felt that the act embodied the theme of fire and warmth, making the group a perfect addition to the event, Pappert said.

Lauren Tourkow, a dancer with Pyroscope, also helps with the administrative side of the business. Tourkow was introduced to fire spinning around 2007.

“I’ve been a huge advocate of dancing since I was a little wee baby,” Tourkow said, laughing. “I had never seen fire spinners until I saw somebody spinning some fire poi…I was completely engaged.”

Fire spinning involves extensive practice with various props, including hoops, staffs and poi, before ever setting them on fire.

“You have to come to a point where you feel confident,” Tourkow said. “I think it’s really important to be able to hone a skill before being able to give a new extreme to it. Don’t get me wrong, I still get burnt sometimes. We call them kisses when we get a little burnt. Like ‘Oh! The fire kissed me!’”

Tourkow said that the company wants to expand into performing at other events, such as weddings.

One challenge the event ran into last year was the beer line, Pappert said. With the attendance being much higher than expected, they experienced some unwanted congestion around the bar. This year, there will be two bars as well as other precautions in place to make sure that festival-goers won’t have to wait too long for their beverages, Pappert said.

“I think when drinks, music, food and art come together, that’s basically the definition of a good time,” Tourkow said. “It’s a coming out of hibernation for all of us where we’re able to shiver up together, have a good time and warm up.”

The festival is for ages 21 and up and is free to attend.