City leaders optimistic of plans for ‘Fusion Fest’

Published: May. 24, 2023 at 6:30 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The spirit of South Bend’s Ethnic Festival is being rekindled.

The signature South Bend event of the past will move forward in the future under a new name.

“Fusion” is defined as joining two or more things together to form a single entity. In this case, Fusion Fest means creating a single event that celebrates the city’s rich and diverse cultures.

There was a time when the Ethnic Festival was a three-day event with its own parade that drew 100,000 visitors.

There was also a time it was a one-day event with a blue-shirted security force of 60 or so professionals and volunteers formed in response to large festival fights the year before.

“I wasn’t a part of the late great ethnic festival or Summer in the City, but I do anticipate the streets being filled with happy crowds, families, kids and just having a family-friendly atmosphere,” said Jordan Gathers, Interim Director of South Bend Venues Parks and Arts.

At this point, it’s hard to tell what Fusion Fest will look like. It now has a $300,000 budget and a website where food vendors, entertainers, and artists can apply to be part of it.

It’s not yet known if Fusion Fest will include a parade or a musical headliner.

“The community has been very invested in the planning process, and so yes, details seem to be fluid at the moment, but I’m optimistic it will all come the end,” Gathers said.

Much like Elkhart has its Jazz Festival and Plymouth has its Blueberry Festival, South Bend will once again have its signature summer event to celebrate. “It still makes sense to continue to take, you know, our city and our community to that next level, you know, the need to gather to share stories and celebrate to, you know, in a familiar place is fundamental and it’s a human universal right.”