Festival History

The Northern Indiana Lakes Festival is approaching its tenth year of offering free and educational fun to residents and visitors of Kosciusko County.

The festival began in 2009 as a collaboration between the Center for Lakes & Streams (formerly Kosciusko Lakes and Streams) and The Watershed Foundation (formerly Tippecanoe Watershed Foundation). In its first year, the Lakes Festival boasted 1,000 attendees during its one day at Center Lake Park in Warsaw, Indiana. The event garnered similar results in 2010, with over 1,000 attendees on a single day at Center Lake Park.

In 2011, the festival remained at Center Lake Park as a single-day event; however, the Northern Indiana Lakes Festival underwent a major re-branding as the Center for Lakes & Streams took on full organization of the event. For the purpose of maintaining and pursuing continual growth, the Lakes Festival expanded to two days in 2012. One day of the festival was held at Center Lake in Warsaw, Ind., and the other day was held at Winona Lake. This expansion led to additional festival activities and over 2,000 attendees.

The following year, in 2013, the festival remained at Center and Winona lakes, but expanded to include one more day of activities at Warsaw’s First Friday celebration in June. This expansion led to more than 4,000 attendees. Due to the rapid expansion of the Lakes Festival and the area’s positive reception of the event, the Center for Lakes & Streams expanded to event to include a full week of lake-related activities in 2014. The festival still took place at Center and Winona Lakes, but also included activities organized by partnering organizations throughout the week to encourage around 5,000 attendees to take care of and learn about local waterways.

The 2015 Northern Indiana Lakes Festival boasted over 5,000 attendees and included over two weeks of lake-related activities, as well as main events occurring at Center Lake, Winona Lake, and Warsaw’s First Friday.

The Lakes Festival returned to its roots at Center Lake in 2016 with more activities, entertainment, and educational opportunities. The 2016 Lakes Festival included the only Duck Call Competition in Indiana, an adventure race, an evening concert, a ski show, and the first-ever fireworks show at Center Lake.

In 2017, the Northern Indiana Lakes Festival boasted more fun activities, entertainment, and vendors than ever before. The event included a rain barrel workshop, educational booths, bounce houses, workshops, Indiana WILD show, Lumberjack show, concerts, and Saturday night fireworks!