About the Lakes Festival
We use education and collaboration to celebrate the lakes and inspire a vision for their future.
The Lakes Festival has been reimagined with the City of Warsaw! The Lilly Center is excited to see how it will change and grow in the coming years with the strengthened partnership with the City of Warsaw Parks and Recreation Department.
Here is the festival’s history.
Launching the Lakes Festival
The Lakes Festival launched in 2009 as a collaboration between the Lilly Center for Lakes & Streams and The Watershed Foundation (formerly Tippecanoe Watershed Foundation). In its first year, the Lakes Festival boasted 1,000 attendees during its one-day event at Center Lake Park in Warsaw, Ind. 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 Lakes Festival underwent re-branding. The Lilly Center took full responsibility for the event, including all planning and fundraising. The response to the 2011 event was so positive, the Lilly Center knew there was an opportunity to bring more workshops, vendors and activities into the community. One day just was not enough, so the Lakes Festival expanded to two days in 2012. The first day of events was held at Center Lake and the second day was held at Winona Lake. This expansion led to additional festival activities and over 2,000 attendees.
Changing form but not purpose
Since 2013, the Lakes Festival has changed forms… but not its vision.
One year included a week-long series of lake-related events, while another year included two weeks of events. In 2016, however, the Lakes Festival fine-tuned its schedule to bring more vendors and events into the county. It returned to a three-day festival format exclusively at Center Lake Park. The 2016 celebration included an adventure race, an evening concert, a ski show, and the first-ever fireworks show at Center Lake.
In 2018, the Lakes Festival celebrated its 10th-annual festival with new, memorable events.
From its first-ever parade to its largest-ever firework show, the 2018 Lakes Festival was one for the books. Aside from a few workshops and the food vendors, the Lakes Festival admission and many other activities remained free.
Due to COVID-19, the festival was cancelled in 2020 and 2021. During that time, the Lilly Center began to rethink the purpose of the festival and came to the conclusion that it would have better opportunities for growth by partnering with the City of Warsaw Parks and Recreation to leverage their strengths. Blue Note Design developed a new brand and logo, which the City gladly took up. Planning for the new hybrid of lake-focused learning and fun has already begun!