The City of La Porte came to life Friday Sept. 15 for its third annual Night on the Ave celebration. The event allowed the city to enjoy a fun evening of entertainment and camaraderie leading up to one of the biggest festivals of the year - its well-loved Sunflower Fair.
Night on the Ave follows a similar format to another popular weekly event the city hosts, just on a slightly bigger scale as a means to hype up the big event the next day.
“Friday night's event is considered the Night on the Ave, and it's something we started three years ago - we do it the night prior to the Sunflower Fair,” said La Porte Civic Auditorium Events Director Brett Binversie. “It’s basically one of our Friday Night Lives, but instead of being located in the Monroe-Stitch area, it's down on the Michigan Avenue area where the Sunflower Fair is.”
While the event has a slightly more intimate, laid-back atmosphere, there’s no denying there’s still a lot of fun for everyone to enjoy.
“The night festival has a beer garden; it has live music,” Binversie said. “This year we have Small Town: A John Cougar tribute, and they are excellent. They do a wonderful job, and they're out of the Northwest Indiana region. We just have a few artists and vendors pop up, as well as several food trucks.”
The Night on the Ave was brought to the city by La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership (LEAP), and the event has seen quite some changes in previous years. During its first run, Night on the Ave served as the finale to the Sunflower Fair instead of the opener. However, after some trial and error, the team realized it was in the best interest of the volunteers to move the event to the start of the sunflower festivities.
“LEAP wanted to do a little celebration the night after the Sunflower Fair. We realized, and they realized, that after the first year it’s a long day because a lot of the volunteers are out at 5:30 in the morning getting ready for the Sunflower Fair,” Binversie said. “To try to run something until 11 o'clock at night wore everyone out, so we decided to do it the night before.”
Another driving force behind the event has been its sole sponsor, the La Porte Urban Enterprise Association (LPUEA). The organization has been a huge help not only for Night on the Ave, but for a multitude of other events the city hosts as well. The city would not be able to put on any of these without the LPUEA’s generous contributions.
“The UEA contributes to all of our downtown events throughout the summer, including the Friday Night Lives and the Night on the Ave. They help with the movie nights that are held with the plaza. We wouldn't be able to run those events without their support financially,” Binversie said.
The event also serves as a great asset to the local community, as it invites event goers to check out the nearby shops and restaurants for some additional fun.
“It’s a great opportunity for people to visit local businesses as well that are open,” Binversie said. “If you don't want to hit up a food truck, there’s some great restaurants nearby, and it's just a wonderful evening.”
Night on the Ave can be a great time for those looking for some more festival fun or want the sunflower experience in a more casual setting. Regardless of your version of a fun time, Binversie assures there’s something at Night on the Ave for everyone.
“The music's excellent. It's less crowded; it's not as busy and it's a different atmosphere than the Sunflower Fair itself. It's more casual and more attuned to camaraderie and friendship,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed the music and everyone getting together talking and enjoying themselves. The community of La Porte is always supportive of the music, fun and fellowship. It's just a great evening to get together, as well as for family bonding. It's for all ages, and it's a great time.”
For more information about more fun events in the City of La Porte, visit its website at cityoflaporte.com. More information on Night on the Ave can also be found at sunflowerfair.com/night-on-the-ave.