The 2017 Northern Indiana Lakes Festival will feature fireworks, two concerts, a lumberjack competition and a variety of other activities.
Dugan Julian, Lilly Center for Lakes and Streams event coordinator, updated the Warsaw Parks and Recreation Board Tuesday afternoon on the May 26-28 event at Central Park.
“The Lakes Festival this year got moved to Memorial Day weekend, that’s approximately 2-1/2 weeks earlier than last year when we ran it the second weekend in June,” he said.
“We’re hoping to capitalize on that being the unofficial start of lake season, that there’ll be people who will be taking advantage of a four-day weekend.”
The 2016 event had about 6,000 people attend, and organizers would like to see more people at the festival this year, he said.
The festival will kick off with a concert May 26 featuring the Jimmy Buffett tribute band Parrots of the Caribbean. Food vendors also will be available.
On the following day, Julian said, “We’re having a lot of events. That’s always our big day, but this year we’re bringing in a lumberjack show. That was paid for by Silveus Insurance, specifically sponsored that event, so they’re going to get a workshop before the festival starts for their employees.”
Throughout the day, he said there will be three lumberjack shows, which will include log-rolling on Center Lake and a boom run in which logs are lined up on the water and competitors try to run across them without falling.
“So they’re going to do three performances throughout the day with a workshop for the attendees. That will run for about a half hour, 45 minutes to give everyone in attendance a chance to try to log roll or throw an ax or a whole host of other things,” he said.
Zimmer Biomet is again sponsoring the fireworks. Before the fireworks are shot off over Center Lake, the band Island Breeze will perform. The band has played at the festival the last three years, Julian said.
Paddle Wars is returning to the festival this year. Participating in the canoe tug-of-war will be Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory firefighters who will challenge Warsaw Police Department officers. Julian said he is also trying to get teams from the Army and Marine Corps to compete.
There also will be a rain barrel workshop during the festival. Sign-up is $20, which will allow the participants to keep their rain barrel. Pre-registration is required, with 10 people already signed up and 10 spots left.
A Memorial Day ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, May 28. The Warsaw Community High School Junior ROTC will perform a color guard ceremony including  a bugle player on taps. Julian said he’s requested the National Guard do a 21-gun salute, but due to the Indianapolis 500 he wasn’t sure if that would be possible.
There also will be a kayak race and other events to finish out the festival on Sunday.
Parks Superintendent Larry Plummer said the Board of Public Works and Safety already approved for the closure of Canal Street for the festival.
He said Julian has been good to work with and “hopefully we’ll have another good festival.”
“We’ve got more food vendors than ever this year. We’re looking at possibly 16, so lots of variety, lots of stuff to eat,” Julian said.
In other business:
• Plummer said they received a letter from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources responding to the Park Department’s five-year master that says the plan meets state requirements.
The letter also states the parks will be  eligible to apply for Land and Water Conservation Grant money over the next five years if the city has projects that qualify.
• Recreation Director Sheila Wieringa reported the department had its first-ever Brunches and Bunnies event and it went smooth, with 23 children from 16 families participating.
She said Mantis Skate Park will open at 8 a.m. Saturday.
The three big concerts this summer will be the country concert featuring Rodney Atkins, July 21; classic rock concert, Absolute Journey and Fleetwood Mac Mania, June 16; and the Blues and BBQ concert, Tinsley Ellis, July 7. All three concerts will include opening acts.
On June 3, there will be three events: Touch A Truck, Fishing Derby and Community Canoeing between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Plummer said he thinks the Touch A Truck program will be a good one and they’ve already had positive feedback on it.
The Mommy and Son Adventure is May 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Pete Thorn Center gymnasium.
As for summer staff, she said lifeguards are still needed and she has one spot open for recreation leader with two applicants.
The 2017 Recreation Guides came out April 11. Over 8,000 copies of them were in the Times-Union on Saturday and Plummer said his department hand-delivered almost 5,000 to businesses and organizations.
• Maintenance Director Shaun Gardner reported the Pike Lake campground is open and filling up quickly. All the courtesy piers are in the lakes.
During the first week of May, he said, “We’ll have our uptown flowers ready to plant.”