Bluffton Road to close for A Walk in Waynedale

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Businesses line the stretch of Bluffton Road that will accommodate A Walk in Waynedale the afternoon of July 27. Sponsors said the area offers more parking than at the Waynedale Community Park, the home of the former Waynedale Community Picnic. (Megan Knowles)

By GARTH SNOW
gsnow@kpcmedia.com

Waynedale’s most enthusiastic backers are merging two celebrations into a single event with a street fair flavor.

The community in south Fort Wayne will block off a stretch of its main north-south route the afternoon of Saturday, July 27. Bluffton Road between Old Trail Road and Interlaken Drive will trade traffic for children’s games, food trucks and vendors between 1 and 4 p.m. during A Walk in Waynedale. Admission to the event is free for those from the Waynedale area. Other costs apply.

Visitors will find more abundant parking than in the former location in Waynedale Community Park, as well as an assortment of year-round food options.

“We’re blending both the Waynedale Community Picnic which has been going on for 16 years and the Embark Waynedale event,” said Camille Garrison, who led the campaign to establish that event in 2018. “Last year was the first year, and that was a celebration of the trails and sidewalks,” Garrison said. “And because we held Embark in June and we held the picnic in August, we decided it would benefit us to blend the best of both events into one event, A Walk in Waynedale.”

“Embark,” which creators spelled in all capital letters, celebrated the opening of the Bluffton Road trails and sidewalks.

Garrison said sponsors wanted the new event to have the same emphasis on promoting a healthy lifestyle. “And now with the street being closed we can have a street festival feel,” she said.

Signs proclaiming “Waynedale” on streets and stores welcome visitors to the community that is in fact part of the city of Fort Wayne.

“I always joke that we’re here by Fort Wayne International Airport, but we’re in Waynedale,” said Cindy Miller, who describes herself as a manager, owner and baker at Waynedale Bakery. That community namesake and landmark is at 2610 Lower Huntington Road, just a block west of the community’s main intersection at Lower Huntington and Bluffton roads.

She said she hears a standing joke: “I came all the way from Fort Wayne to be here.”

Miller said she’s proud of her area by either name. A longtime supporter of the former A Taste of Waynedale, Miller said she looks forward to attending another festival with the Waynedale name.

Megan Ryan, a stalwart of the Waynedale Community Picnic, said the August celebration was a victim of its own success. “It’s just that the picnic got really large, which is great,” Ryan said. Attendance often reached about 2,000 people. “But we kind of grew out of our space,” Ryan said. “The parking was always an issue and just so many people coming from so many areas of Waynedale. So we kind of merged, to create a premier event for Waynedale — one big event.”

“An open street concept will highlight the sidewalks and trails that Waynedale has worked so hard to bring to the community,” Ryan said.

She said “this awesome event” will still celebrate Waynedale, but “in a new location, on a new date, with a new name.

“It’s a celebration of community and togetherness.”

She said the first Embark event attracted “tons of participants” despite the rain. It was still a chance to celebrate the opening of the trails, which Ryan described as “a huge part of our community and a huge accomplishment.”

She asked people to follow Waynedale.com/WalkInWaynedale for updates.

In a news release, sponsors said, more than a hundred local businesses and individuals are sponsoring the event. Besides games, activities include an inflatables obstacle course, appearances by local police, EMT and fire departments and a Science Exploration Tent.

“We want people to see the best part of our community, right on Bluffton Road,” Ryan said.