story by GLENDA WINDERS

Spring sunshine after a dreary winter is an invitation to get out of the house and back outside, and one of the best ways to enjoy that newfound freedom is to experience performing arts events al fresco, usually at a concert or show outdoors under the wide-open sky. Fortunately you won’t have far to go to find one.

Take, for example, Lafayette, where Mosey Downtown Main Street will take place once a month beginning in May and twice in August. On these days business owners, artists and musicians team up to provide an evening of free family-friendly entertainment for everyone in your group. In addition to three music stages, sidewalk chalk, street performers, handmade hula hoops, drum circles, DJs, belly dancers, balloon animals and more will be on offer. And while all of this is happening, you’ll be munching on the food, beer and wine that will be available for sale.

Carmel-PorchFest
Carmel PorchFest is a free event featuring musical acts performing live on neighborhood front porches.
PHOTO: Carmel PorchFest

Also in Lafayette, the TASTE of Tippecanoe will be happening on June 15. For over forty years, the TASTE has been downtown Lafayette’s largest, annual street festival featuring the best food and live music from in and outside Tippecanoe County. And watch the calendar for concerts and events at the Tippecanoe County Amphitheater. This 166-acre park features a venue seating 1,511 for plays and concerts, with amenities such as restrooms, a concession stand and plenty of grassy areas everyone can enjoy.

August will bring Ouibache, a roots music festival dedicated to preserving the virtues and values of traditional roots music. Musicians of all types from all over the world will gather to play tunes and commune with one another. Stage shows will feature local, regional, national and international acts. Music, demonstrations and dancing will all be part of the fun that goes on throughout the festival.

Taste-of-Tippecanoe-Lafayette
Taste of Tippecanoe in Lafayette.
PHOTO: Tim Brouk

In Hammond the place to be is the lakeside Pavilion at Wolf Lake Memorial Park, just 20 minutes from downtown Chicago. The “PAV” and its tower design were inspired by the 1895 Frank Lloyd Wright amusement resort concept for Wolf Lake. The distinctive pavilion’s 2,600-square-foot main stage plays host to all kinds of concerts and events, and 86,000 square feet of grass and concrete provides seating for everyone who wants to come. Mark your calendar for July 17-21 when Wolf Lake will be home to five days of fun and entertainment at the annual Festival of the Lakes. The festival includes popular musical acts, fair rides, games, and food vendors.

You can experience musicians and bands right in the heart of downtown Crown Point. Their “Sounds of Summer” concert series will be held in the Franciscan Health Amphitheater at Bulldog Park on various Thursdays during the Car Cruise, and Saturday nights throughout the summer. All concerts are free to attend.

Hammond's-Festival-of-the-Lakes
Hammond’s annual Festival of the Lakes is five days of fun and entertainment. PHOTO: Joey B. Lax-Salinas Photography

When we think of “performing arts” it’s easy to picture concerts and music. But in Michigan City, they take outdoor performing arts to a new level. Their annual “Singing Sands Sand Sculpting Festival” attracts the world’s most talented sand sculptors where they compete over the three day festival, creating beautiful works of art on the famous “singing sands” of Lake Michigan. The festival includes live music, full bars, and a wide variety of food, crafts and merchandise, as well as a Kid’s Sand Zone. While you’re in Michigan City, check out Zorn Brew Works, known as the “outdoor music venue for craft beer lovers.” The “Backyard at Zorn” features all types of live music in a great setting.

Bulldog-Park-Crown-Point
Crown Point’s Bulldog Park is home to their “Sounds of Summer” concert series. PHOTO: Bulldog Park

In downtown Valparaiso, the Valpo Blues & BBQ Festival will feature a lineup of impressive blues artists and barbecue from some of Valpo’s best restaurants. And for some free entertainment, check out the city’s Summer Concert Series and Summer Outdoor Movies where “live” characters from the movie roam around the audience.

Over in Dekalb County the Dekalb Outdoor Theatre will come to life with a variety of not-to-miss performances. This year they will range from ‘50s and ‘60s music by the Bulldogs and Black Kat Moan for blues to the Fort Wayne Ballet and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic playing popular patriotic songs.

Hudson-Family-Park-Portland
Hudson Family Park in Portland. PHOTO: Jay County Visitors & Tourism Bureau

Meanwhile in Terre Haute, fans will be “rockin’ on the river” at The Mill Event Center and Amphitheater, located on 65 acres just east of the Wabash. Owners Tim and Kelly Drake have made it their mission to maintain the land’s history, create a place to bring people together and provide top- notch entertainment with a small-town feel. This season will include acts such as Billy Currington on June 15 and Tesla on July 19.

On the campus of the Jay County Arts Place, the 2024 Hudson Family Park Amphitheatre Concert Series in Portland will take place on June 20 with Phil Dirt and the Dozers; July 18 with the Whoa, Man! Band celebrating women in rock music; Aug. 8 with a Beatles tribute by Liverpool Lads; and Sept. 12 for a Sounds of Summer Beach Boys tribute.

Ouibache-Lafayette-Indiana
Ouibache is a roots music festival held in Lafayette. PHOTO: Lafayette-West Lafayette Visitors Center

For a groovy way to enjoy live music, make plans to attend Hippie Fest, a family-friendly music and arts festival featuring vibrant entertainment for all ages. You’ll enjoy hundreds of bohemian vendor booths, vintage hippie car show, DIY tie-dye, giant bubble garden, sideshow performers, kids activities, delicious food, and more. It’s taking place in Tipton September 28 and 20. Tickets are required.

The season opens in Indianapolis in April, when Georgia Street between Capitol Avenue and South Pennsylvania Street becomes an outside community venue for music and other events. Then on April 27 the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra will be at Monument Circle for an all-day event, “Symphony on the Circle.”

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Castle Knoll Farms and Amphitheater, located between French Lick and Paoli. PHOTO: Visit French Lick-West Baden

The downtown Indy fun will continue at SPARK, the park at Monument Circle, the first weekend in June with music, food and festivities. Tuesdays will be the day for live music, and a variety of performances from spoken-word poetry to puppet shows will be featured all season long until the close of SPARK November 3.

In Carmel, the annual PorchFest is a free, family-friendly community event where a variety of musical acts perform live on neighborhood porches. The featured musical acts range from acoustic to electric, solo to ensemble, covering multiple different musical genres. Food and beverage vendors are available.

Music-in-the-Park-Madison-Indiana
Local and regional bands perform during Music in the Park, held in Bicentennial Park in downtown Madison.
PHOTO: Visit Madison, Inc.

From May to October Morgan County has lots of outdoor entertainment going on. The Drink at the Creek Concert Series at the Cedar Creek Winery, Brew Co. and Distillery features tribute bands playing the hits of groups such as Journey, Van Halen, Fleetwood Mac, the Bee Gees, Elton John and more as well as popular regionally known bands every Saturday. The shows are family-friendly, and you’ll be able to enjoy adult beverages along with food from the Cedar Creek Eatery.

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Mosey Down Main Street in Lafayette is a series of free street celebrations. PHOTO: Lafayette-West Lafayette Visitors Center

Downtown Martinsville sings all summer with the Downtown Free Concert Series. A brand- new venue just off the courthouse square at the corner of Jefferson and Pike streets will host regional bands throughout the summer and a Christian music finale in late August.

Artie Fest will feature Jake Dodds, Tyler Poe and The Volunteer Railroad at the same spot on July 27.

The free shows in Mooresville are either at Pioneer Park or Bicentennial Park, with refreshments available onsite. And at the Morgan County Fairgrounds a big country concert on June 15 stars Martina McBride, Tracy Lawrence and Diamond Rio.

Carmel-PorchFest
Carmel PorchFest takes place in the Carmel Arts & Design District each year.
PHOTO: Carmel PorchFest

Kokomo has a full lineup of free outdoor music, including the Kokomo Summer Concert Series in Foster Park, and Kokomo Riverwalk Concert Series at the Kokomo Riverwalk Stage. And don’t miss the Kokomo Park Band which has been bringing music to the community for more than a century. More than 40 musicians take the stage each week in Highland Park.

Madison has good reason to be known as Indiana’s Music City. “Madison’s musical tapestry plays out against scenic backdrops that are not only a feast for the eyes but also a harmonious delight for the ears,” said Andrew Forrester, executive tourism director.

Madison’s-Roostertail
Madison’s Roostertail Music Festival. PHOTO: Visit Madison, Inc.

He’s talking about small and large venues hosting weekly live music, buskers on Main Street, and world- renowned artists who serenade the community with their brass, strings, and beautiful voices. Also each year they welcome several music festivals, including the Roostertail Music Festival in conjunction with the Madison Regatta hydroplane boat races, this year on July 5-7. Southern rock, country and bluegrass stars will perform. Be sure to keep these on your radar too: Madison Ribberfest BBQ & Blues, MapHop Music Festival, Music in the Park at Bicentennial Park and Music at the Mansion at Lanier Mansion State Historic Site.

Folks in Orange County can head out to Castle Knoll Amphitheater between French Lick and Paoli for their first full season this year. With groups such as Vanilla Ice, C+C Music Factory and Hairball, Heath Eric, CEO of The Eric Group, promoters of the amphitheater, says they are going to “blow the roof off” with their concerts.

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Hippie Fest music and art festival.
PHOTO: Ryan Moeller Photography

“The rich heritage of the Castle Knoll Farms and the history of this area equate to something unique and special for the region,” he said. He added that in the next few years they plan to become the premier venue for big-name acts in southern Indiana.

Another plus is that the location is close to other popular attractions, such as Wilstem Wildlife Park, Big Splash Adventure, world-class golf courses and the historic resorts. Now you can come for a concert — and then stay on for the rest of the fun.





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