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Ride the Wave: Music Festival Needs Community Help (Op-Ed)

Middle Waves St. Marys Stage with The Flaming Lips performing

In January, Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. unveiled a “bold” 10-year economic development action plan for Fort Wayne/Allen County.

Among its top goals is for Fort Wayne to “become recognized as a Top 10 Music City by 2031 through expanded music festivals, music venues, training and education, and music industry innovation and technology development.” Middle Waves Music Festival was cited as one of the community’s top assets toward achieving this goal.

Middle Waves is set to return at the Foellinger Theatre campus on June 17-18, and we need the community’s help and financial support to make that happen.

It’s been more than three years since the last Middle Waves – three long years since Lizzo took over the St. Marys stage on a hot Saturday evening.

It’s been three long years since we celebrated the collective joy of dancing among fellow music lovers, finding our new favorite band, and being proud to live in Fort Wayne to attend its coolest jaw-dropping musical event – one that rivals any festival in Chicago or Indianapolis.

We knew we wanted to come back as soon as we could safely and do so in a big way. Big Boi is headlining on Friday, Young the Giant is headlining on Saturday, with rising acts such as ROSIE, *repeat repeat, and Kiwi Jr (and more, including great local bands) featured throughout the weekend.

Go big? We have.

It isn’t just about the music.

It’s about that sacred feeling you get when you are with friends and strangers sitting on a couch in the middle of the grassy Deep End lounge in between bands. It’s about the sense of community, art, and creativity felt over every inch of the festival grounds. It’s about kids celebrating their own love of music during Mini Waves on Saturday afternoon, then their parents running them home to a sitter before heading back to the festival to catch the headliner. And don’t forget the glitter and flower crowns.

As Brené Brown said in “Braving the Wilderness,” “Collective assembly is more than just people coming together to distract themselves from life by watching live events – instead it is an opportunity to feel connected to something bigger than oneself; it is an opportunity to feel joy, social connection, meaning and peace.”

And, man, do we really need that after enduring the past two years of uncertainty, chaos and distance.

We are asking for your support in bringing back Middle Waves and continuing to build this cultural momentum in our community. There are many ways you can support the music festival. You can become a sponsor for as little as $500, or buy tickets for yourself, your family or team. Come to discover your new favorite band!

You can make a charitable donation to the festival and buy tickets at our website ( for as little as $25 or $50. You can share info about the festival with your networks or share this article with others.

We are a nonprofit festival, organized by a group of hardy volunteers. We plan the festival on nights and weekends and take time off from our regular jobs to work on Middle Waves because we believe Fort Wayne needs this festival.

All sponsorship dollars raised and money from tickets sold goes into the festival. We have amazing partners and sponsors, many who’ve been with us from the beginning (including Sweetwater and Parkview) and some who are new and excited to help us bring the 2022 festival to life.

We are eager to find and build relationships with new sponsors and partners.

Truly, the Middle Waves Board of Directors is grateful for the love and support the community has shown this festival.

From the first rainy weekend in September 2016 when the clouds parted and the Flaming Lips took the stage, Fort Wayne showed up.

Jake Ingalls, Flaming Lips guitarist, stated it best: “Tonight was way better than Riot Fest (the previous night in Chicago). This festival gave a f—, the audience was awesome and we played better because of it.”

The 2017 and 2018 festivals built off that inaugural event. Who could have guessed Lizzo would become a huge phenomenon within months of singing with 6-year-old CeCe on the St. Marys Stage in September 2018?

We need your help in the coming weeks to make Middle Waves 2022 the best festival yet.

We look forward to high-fiving you on June 18 after another festival well done.

This Op-Ed was originally published in the Journal Gazette on Sunday, May 15, 2022.