A long-time Fort Wayne event is redirecting its focus to help a county park in dire need.
Sol Fest, which traditionally has been held at Fox Island County Park, will instead happen at Parkview Field this year, according to festival organizer Sarah Loshe.
“I’ve been going to Fox Island since I was 4 years old,” Loshe said, “and I will not let it close.”
The county park, located at 7324 Yohne Road, was hit hard by the derecho thunderstorm that slammed the area on June 13 with nearly 100-mph winds. Roughly 1,000 trees in the park were blown down, blocking many of its hiking trails and making it unsafe for visitors. It has been closed to the public since the storm hit.
Loshe hopes her event will help raise the cash necessary to help the park reopen sooner.
This year’s SolFest is scheduled for Sunday, August 14, from noon until 10 p.m. at Parkview Field, 1301 Ewing Street. Groups will begin playing around 11:30 a.m., Loshe said.
Bands scheduled to play at the celebration are almost entirely local musicians, and include URB, Unlikely Alibi, and Grateful Groove, among others. Genres of music range from rock and rap to acoustic, folk, and jazz.
This year will be the first time in three years that the event has proceeded as planned, Loshe said; after two years of being rained out and then COVID shuttered it last year.
Sponsors of the festival include Hoosier Heartland RE/MAX, Davey’s Bagels, radio station 96.3 FM, Shaffer Multimedia, and Fort Wayne Makers’ Market, the business Loshe runs in Fort Wayne at 6527 Covington Road.
Cost for the event is $15 for adults; children 10 and under are admitted free.
In addition to the two stages with a multitude of bands performing for the crowds, Loshe said the festival will feature an array of other attractions. “We’re going to have acrobats, fire-spinning, juggling, henna tattoos, face painting, balloon animals, bounce houses, massage tables, splash pads, and more,” she said.
“So, bring your kids and their bathing suits,” Loshe said with a chuckle, “And we’ll have inflatables, even for adults.”
Food and beverages for festival attendees will be provided by Parkview Field concessions, and include everything Tin Caps baseball fans can get during games, including hot dogs, pizza, sandwiches, nachos, soda and beer.
Festival goers also will be given wrist bands in case they’d like to walk around downtown and return to the festivities without paying for re-entry.
According to park officials, Fox Island likely will remain closed for the rest of this season, and probably won’t open again until this autumn or even next year, despite Loshe’s fund-raising efforts.
Loshe encourages anyone interested in helping to sponsor the event or those who want to donate to help its production can call her directly at (260) 494-6905.
Loshe noted putting on SolFest this year isn’t just about helping to keep a county park afloat, but keeping a local tradition going strong – both her festival and the park.
“We love SolFest,” Loshe said, “it’s something we can take our kids to and have a good time, and we don’t want that to go away. I just want to do this for Fox Island. I want to work with them and get them the money they need. It’s so important to have them open for our county.”