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Making plans for the summer?
Make sure you keep South Bend at the top of your list of places for fun in the sun.
Why? It’s one of those summertime destinations that have something for everyone.
“During the summer, we have a great series of events to keep anyone entertained, no matter how old they are, where they’re from or what their interests are,” says Rob DeCleene, a South Bend native, who is now executive director of the South Bend/Mishawaka Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Jazz and rock concerts, challenging urban adventure games, art fairs and museums, riverfront beach bashes … this all is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg of summer fun in South Bend.
Dennis Andres, executive director at The Morris Performing Arts Center in downtown South Bend, says summertime in South Bend offers the kinds of activities you might find in larger cities … at smaller-town prices.
“I love showing what we have around here to my friends from back East,” says Andres, who grew up just north of New York City.
Want to learn more? Here’s a bird’s-eye view of some of the best South Bend has to offer throughout the summer.
Games and festivities unlike any other
Here in South Bend, you’ll find unique summer events unlike any you’d find anywhere else.
Take, for example, the Urban Adventure Games on July 30. Teams run, bike, paddle and climb their way through South Bend, navigating a “top secret” map to locate and complete a variety of challenging checkpoints in a race against time. Elite, Open, Family and Junior divisions of competition give everyone a chance to take part in the fun.
“The Urban Adventure Games are similar to television’s ‘Amazing Race,’” says DeCleene, a South Bend native. “This is one of my favorite events of the summer.”
On the River is another one-of-a-kind summertime activity in South Bend that keeps people coming back for more each year. This August 5-6 event is a beach-style festival, complete with sand and a rich array of Caribbean-themed entertainment and activities, including live music, volleyball tournament, teen night and family day activities, and lots of mouth-watering food.
And it’s all for a good cause. Proceeds from the On the River festival benefit the Center for the Homeless.
Music to your ears
|The Morris Performing Arts Center|
Classical, jazz, rock and folk music … these are the sounds wafting through the air at concerts and festivals in our vibrant city by the river.
Among the more popular musical treats is Fridays by the Fountain, a midday concert series now in its 11th year.
Held at the fountain in front of The Morris Performing Arts Center, these free rock, jazz and ethnic music concerts can draw more than 1,000 people and are complete with a range of food vendors. From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every other Friday, June 10 through August 19, Fridays by the Fountain offer a great way to jump-start the weekend.
In addition, The Morris will be the site for a performance by The Monkees on June 28. Come August 12, it will host The Ultimate Doo-Wop show, featuring The Drifters.
|East Race Waterway|
Sundays at 4 p.m., June 19 through August 14, you also can enjoy free performances by local bands as part of the East Race/Seitz Park Concert Series, or in the evenings at the Chris Wilson Pavilion in Potawatomi Park. While you’re there, you can enjoy a relaxing stroll through the city’s award-winning zoo, too.
For those who relish orchestral music, the South Bend Symphony’s Pops at the Cove on August 23 will feature a performance of the 1812 Overture followed by a fireworks show.
Another big musical draw this summer is the Blues & Ribs Fest Saturday, June 11, at Howard Park on the Riverfront. It will feature some of the biggest names in Blues, including Michael Burks and Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers.
|Leeper Park Art Fair|
Serious art aficionados, craft collectors or those who simply enjoy viewing artwork can take advantage of South Bend’s many art fairs and exhibits.
For starters, enjoy the outdoors while browsing and even purchasing fine arts and crafts from regional artisans at the Leeper Park Art Fair on June 18 and 19.
Later this summer, another one of downtown South Bend’s biggest art extravaganzas takes place: Art Beat, on August 27. A celebration of visual, performing and culinary arts, Art Beat is a sumptuous feast for the eyes, ears and palates of people in all age groups.
Visitors might also want to take in the South Bend Museum of Art at Century Center, which has five gallery spaces devoted to 19th- and 20th-century artists.
Other cultural attractions include The Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts Gallery at Indiana University South Bend; the Center for History; the Snite Museum of Art on the University of Notre Dame campus; the Studebaker National Museum; and Copshaholm, the Oliver Mansion.
|Julie Curtis, marketing director for Downtown South Bend|
The first Friday of every month is big in downtown South Bend, thanks to First Fridays events, featuring music, restaurants, art galleries and shopping.
“Our downtown streets really come alive on First Fridays, especially during the summer months,” says Julie Curtis, Downtown South Bend’s marketing director.
She notes that the July 1 First Fridays theme is “Dinner and a Movie,” featuring a free screening of “Casablanca” on the Gridiron at the College Football Hall of Fame. Restaurant packages are being promoted, with two meals for $25 at casual eateries or three-course meals for $25 at fine-dining restaurants.
The August 5 theme is “Dog Days of Summer” and will feature fun for the entire family, including Fido. Activities include a hunt-and-sniff dog walk game, fashion mutt march, rescue alley pet adoption center, agility course, classic car show and live music.
The sporting life
If you’re like most people, when you think of South Bend, you probably think of Notre Dame football. But there’s plenty more that meets the eye, especially during the summer months, for sports spectators and participants alike.
The nationally recognized Sunburst Races already took place on June 4, but they’re nonetheless worth mentioning for those who may want to plan — and train — ahead for next year. Serious runners can take part in the Sunburst marathon and half-marathon, or the 10K and 5K runs, while the more casual runners can partake in the 5K fitness walk and family walks.
The football season doesn’t usually start until September for most schools, but for those who can’t get enough of things pigskin, the Enshrinement Festival will be held July 15 and 16, honoring gridiron legends inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
This year’s class includes Desmond Howard, Mark Herrmann, Barry Alvarez and Gene Stallings. The family-friendly event also features live music, a downtown block party, barbecue competition, fireworks, a big parade, youth football clinic and autograph sessions with inductees.
|College Football Hall of Fame's Museum|
Visitors should also take time to see the College Football Hall of Fame’s Museum, which includes memorabilia from some of the sport’s most famed teams and players.
There is plenty of minor league baseball action at Stanley Coveleski Regional Stadium, “the Cove,” in downtown South Bend, where the Silver Hawks — an Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate — play. The stadium seats about 5,500 and boasts a new artificial-turf field.
Rich Payton, development director for the South Bend Parks & Recreation Department, says softball fans can see some of the nation’s best players in tournaments at the city’s Belleville Complex.
“We draw top teams from all over the country for the tournaments that take place here,” he says.
Olympic-level kayakers and canoeists compete on the East Race whitewater course in downtown South Bend. The course, part of the St. Joseph River, is also popular with recreational rafters.
No matter what your interest, you’ll find plenty of summertime action to keep you busy in South Bend.