Support Fort Wayne, Ride Your Bike!

DETROIT—A new music festival is coming to Detroit this Saturday at Historic Fort Wayne and it’s being billed as the region’s first fully philanthropic festival.

More than 25 musicians will perform across all genres of music during the concert, including Grammy Award winners “Bone Thugs and Harmony” as part of their comeback tour, electronic star “Girl Talk,” and numerous local favorites, such as Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas, Ro Spit, and more. A complete line-up can be found online.

"It would realistically take millions of dollars for full restoration of the Fort, but we're hoping for a few thousand from the festival that could fix some of the problems temporarily." ~ Tom Berlucchi

“The Oakaloosa Music Festival is all about celebrating the great talent we have here in Detroit, spotlighting our city’s culture and history, while also giving back to the community in ways that will help create a better future for the youth of Detroit,” said Adam Bleznak, program director for the festival and board member of the Detroit Sports Zone in a press release.

The event will also include complimentary bicycle parking, provided by Wheelhouse Detroit, which has been offering complimentary valet parking for other city events, such as the Detroit City Football Club, to encourage bicycling in the city.

“It’s a community event. We want to cater to all aspects of the community and here in Detroit, biking culture is growing. It's a very important culture,” said Adrian Pittman, director of marketing for the festival. “We wanted to show support for it by accommodating it in our parking and transportation plan.”

Chaz Parks, a customer service representative at Wheelhouse, said bicyclists will be given half a playing card with the other half placed in their wheel spoke to serve as their claim tickets.

“This city is turning into a big biker-friendly community. Having people ride their bikes to this event rather than driving is better for the person and the city and gets people out and about,” Parks said.

Why You Should Go

28Tom Berlucchi, chairman and founder of the Historic Fort Wayne Coalition, said the site is desperately in need of funds for restoration. He said it would realistically take millions of dollars for full restoration but said he was hoping for a few thousand from the festival that could fix some of the problems temporarily.

“I can’t say 100 percent that proceeds will go toward restoring the entire site, because that’s an unrealistic statement,” he said. “But the proceeds of that concert could help stabilize some of the existing structures to buy time for future restoration.”

Fort Wayne is a 90-acre fort located on the Detroit River containing numerous army barracks, guard houses and other buildings open to the public.

The site, built in 1845, was mostly used for peacetime operations serving as an infantry garrison and primary induction point for Michigan troops entering conflict.

It was transferred to city ownership starting in 1948 and is used today as a historical destination and a site for sports and events.

It is managed by Detroit’s Recreation Department and run by the volunteers that make up the Historic Fort Wayne Coalition. The fort is the site of Native American burial grounds and played a significant role in the War of 1812, the Civil War, and both World Wars, according to the Historic Fort Wayne Coalition website.

Berlucchi said funds for upkeep of the fort come from donations, events and the money generated from guided tours, as well as some from the city and in-kind work from volunteers.

The fort is open seasonally on weekends from April – October, where Berlucchi said it has an average of between 20-30 visitors per weekend or in the tens of thousands during an event.

“I believe this is a great venue for the city of Detroit, for the citizens of the state of Michigan and it should stay our venue for us to enjoy,” Berlucchi said.

Where Funds Will be Used

Bleznak said the Detroit Sports Zone will use its funds to continue programming that focuses on “sports, performing arts and job skill training as the means to teach future generations about the importance of health, wellness, team work and drug awareness.”

The event is produced by the Detroit Sports Zone and started as a fundraiser to continue its programs, said Pittman “Detroit Sports Zone worked with the Detroit Recreation Department about using the Fort Wayne site as a venue and decided to use the profits to benefit the Fort’s reconstruction efforts as well, in addition to other non-profit organizations.”

“Fort Wayne’s an institution that doesn’t get the attention that it should get based on the influence that it’s played in the past,” he said.

In addition to the concert, the event will also feature the “Oakaloosa Community Corridor,” where area non-profit organizations will set up booths to share their programs with the public. Programs featured in the corridor include:

  • Detroit Sports Zone, Inc.
  • Historic Fort Wayne Coalition
  • Detroit Historical Society
  • Detroit Recreation Department: Northwest Activities Center
  • Jewish Federation
  • Defeat the Label
  • The Heidelberg Project
  • United Way
  • Detroit Artists Market
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • D:hive
  • Greening of Detroit
  • Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation
  • 313 Certified
  • Parade Company
  • City Year

“We want people to walk away with a sense of community,” Pittman said. “We want people to have fun, we want them to understand we’re all part of the same community and we want them to contribute.”

Get Involved

Volunteers are still needed for the event, including positions with set-up/tear down, food, greeters, production, box office, stage operations and merchandise. Volunteers will work in one of three five-hour shifts that start from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Those interested in volunteering should send an email to the Oakaloosa team.

Oakaloosa will take place at the fort at 6325 W. Jefferson from noon to midnight Saturday, July 27, and will donate all net profits to benefit area non-profit organizations.

Tickets are $45 online and $55 at the door; $55 VIP online, $65 at the door.

Beneficiaries include the Historic Fort Wayne Coalition, the Detroit Recreation Department which manages Fort Wayne, the Detroit Sports Zone, a non-profit organization that works to build life skills in youth and adults through sports programs, and Defeat the Label, a non-profit organization with a mission to end bullying.

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