Fort Wayne, Indiana, has earned many nicknames over the years – Summit City, City of Churches and the City That Saved Itself are just a few. And now Indiana’s second-largest city has been named host for the Outdoor Writers Association of America’s national conference June 2-4, 2018.
OWAA Executive Director Tom Sadler announced the selection just prior to OWAA’s 2016 conference July 16-18, in Billings, Montana.
“From the folks at Visit Fort Wayne, to Mayor Tom Henry, the ballpark staff and everyone else we met, the hospitality is outstanding,” Sadler said. “And the recreational opportunities in northeast Indiana are made to order for our members. We’re looking forward to having a terrific conference in this Midwest gem of a city.”
The ballpark Sadler mentioned is Parkview Field, consistently ranked one of the top minor league baseball stadiums in the country. Home to the Class A TinCaps, Parkview Field is adjacent to the conference hotels and could hold conference events.
Breakout Day will be at the St. Joe Valley Conservation Club, one of the largest shotgun facilities in the Midwest. Water Day will take place on the banks of the Maumee River, a few blocks from The Courtyard Fort Wayne, the host hotel located in the heart of downtown. All conference sessions will be across the street at the Grand Wayne Convention Center.
Room rates at The Courtyard are set at $109 per night and include complimentary Wi-Fi, plus access to the hotel’s indoor pool and fitness center. The Courtyard also provides complimentary shuttle service to Fort Wayne International Airport.
The Fort Wayne area is rich with history. Its earliest inhabitants, the Miami Indians, settled at the confluence of the St. Joseph, St. Marys and Maume rivers that form the heart of the city. French traders, the British, and eventually Americans, recognized the strategic advantages of the waterways and established footholds in the form of military forts.
Hundreds of glacially formed natural lakes in northeast Indiana provide endless recreational opportunities, as do three major reservoir lakes, five state parks, three state-managed fish and wildlife areas, and the nearby Wabash River, which is the longest free-flowing waterway east of the Mississippi.
If that’s not enough, Fort Wayne is within striking distance of Lake Erie and Lake Michigan, as well as other outdoor recreational destinations throughout Indiana that present abundant story opportunities for OWAA members.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore ranks near the top of National Park Service properties for biodiversity, and a combination of state and federal lands in southern Indiana provide more than a half million acres of public lands.
Fort Wayne is a city of firsts, including the first professional baseball game and one of the first night baseball games. The National Basketball Association was established here over a kitchen table talk between leaders of rival leagues. The television, pocket calculator, jukebox and motors for the refrigerator and garbage disposal were invented here.
That same innovative spirit is alive in Fort Wayne today and can be seen in a downtown renaissance and neighborhood pride.
Nearly 90 parks of all sizes and shapes dot the city and surrounding county, and more than 90 miles of trails (and growing) connect neighborhoods to these parks.