1. It’s Hoosiers, Not Fort Wayners
Opinions differ on exactly where the term “Hoosiers” came from, but the fact remains that what began with somewhat of a negative connotation for rednecks and country bumpkins has become a term of pride for people in Indiana.
While most cities try to differentiate themselves from the more rural areas in their state, the people in Fort Wayne embrace their Indiana heritage just as much as the rest of the state does—with the exception of the people from The Region.
So don’t call them Fort Wayners or Fort Waynites or Fort Waynians or some other cutesy name. The folks here in Fort Wayne are “Hoo Hoo Hoosiers!” all the way, and are proud of it.
2. The South Has Nothing On Your Hoosier Hospitality
One of the most common downsides to city life is that the people can be much more abrasive and unfriendly that those from smaller towns. That’s not a problem in Fort Wayne.
If you’ve got a flat tire, you won’t even have a chance to worry about it before someone has pulled over to help you change it. They will wave you in front of them in traffic, let you merge without a problem, and hold the door open for you with a smile. It’s called Hoosier Hospitality, and you feel it everywhere you go in the city.
3. Everybody’s German Even When They’re Not
Think of a more family-friendly Oktoberfest full of wiener schnitzels, beer stein relay races, and German beer flowing like a river, and you’ve got Germanfest. It’s a huge deal to the folks in Fort Wayne who look forward to celebrating their German heritage –whether they’re actually German or not- with good company, great beer, and an endless sea of amazing food.
No one goes away or makes plans during the weekend of Germanfest because it’s a vacation in itself. When college kids in Fort Wayne start counting down to their 21st birthday, it’s not just because they can finally get served at bars. It’s so they can get served at Germanfest.
4. Christmas Is Better Here Than At The North Pole
Hoosiers in general really know how to go all out for the holidays. But the people in Fort Wayne take that enthusiasm to a whole new level. If you didn’t know any better during a stroll through the city anytime during the holiday season, you might assume that the North Pole picked up and relocated to the city. The parks are lit up, the streets are lined, houses are decorated Clark Griswold-style, and everyone’s in the Christmas cheer.
While most people save their fireworks for the Fourth of July, the people in Fort Wayne set them off in November for HolidayFest to kick off the twinkling season. The people in Fort Wayne love the holidays so much, they keep the gingerbread showcases and candy cane overload going through January.
5. You Never Really Grow Up In Fort Wayne
There’s a reason that Fort Wayne was crowned “Playful City USA.” With some of the most amazing playgrounds, impressive splash parks and unique family-friendly events around, Fort Wayne is a perfect area for kids – the small ones and the big ones.
There are a lot of things about their city that the people in Fort Wayne can brag about, but the endless fun to be found in their city is their favorite. If growing up means you lose the ability to play, it’s no wonder that they wouldn’t ever try. Where else can you find safari camps or mimes (“buskers”) entertaining in the streets? And all those pinwheels. Only in Fort Wayne.
6. And Fighting Over The Best College Is No Joke
The people in Fort Wayne are fortunate to have two top-rated universities for the price of one in their city. Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (better known as IPFW) is a bridge campus that is two separate schools in one place.
Those who don’t go to IPFW go to Ivy Tech Community College, one of the largest community colleges in the country, and a very popular school in the area.
But the schools aren’t too fond of each other, although it goes widely unspoken. IPFW looks down their noses at Ivy Tech who thinks IPFW are a bunch of snobs. You can rest assured that either school you attend will provide a great education—but prepare to be judged one way or the other.
7. You Don’t Talk Funny, Everyone Else Does
When most places deny having an accent, they’ll tell you that you’re just hearing things because of your accent. And they’re almost always dead wrong. But, if you’re hearing an accent from the folks in Fort Wayne, it probably is you.
Fort Wayne has been difficult for linguistics to define, with some labeling the speech here “virtually accent neutral.” The city falls in the Midland North, which is distinguished by an absence of Southern draw or shift. Every once in a while you may notice a nasal sounding accent that someone picked up from the area of The Region. But the people in Fort Wayne are far enough away that it generally doesn’t bleed through here.
So most of the time, if there’s any accent to be heard, it’s yours.
8. Baseball Comes First, No Matter What
Baseball is the sport of choice in Fort Wayne, even though they don’t have a major league team. But who needs one when you’ve got a minor league team like the TinCaps where you can spend an afternoon at a game for a fraction of the cost of a team in the majors?
The major league team that locals root for depends on the area they’re influenced most by: The Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, and the Cleveland Indians are all viable alternative teams for locals to follow. But anyone who is an Indians fan probably only started following them because of Fort Wayne’s major leaguer, Steve Hargan.
The folks of Fort Wayne are proud to call Dottie Schroeder their own, too. Played by Geena Davis in “A League of Their Own” and star of the Fort Wayne Daisies women’s baseball team, Schroeder never actually played for the Rockford Peaches. She was always Fort Wayne’s.
9. Coneys & Ribs: It’s What’s For Dinner
Other cities can keep their hoity-toity restaurants. All the people in Fort Wayne need is a joint to grab a coney or some ribs. Coney Island hot dogs are a culinary staple in the city and if you took them away, there’s a pretty good chance that the locals would join together and stage a revolution.
Southern-style barbecue is also surprisingly on point here, and are another popular menu selection in the city. The annual Ribfest at Headwaters Park brings everyone out to indulge in massive slabs perfectly smoked in a sticky sauce. Top it off with a Coney and you’ve got yourself a better feast than Thanksgiving dinner.
10. Hoosiers Don’t Back Down
People throughout the state of Indiana are used to the jokes and even snide remarks made about them by the rest of the country. All outsiders probably think of is corn and Indianapolis, and don’t even consider Fort Wayne at all.
Everyone in town knows Fort Wayne doesn’t get the attention that it should, but they don’t let it get to them. They know it’s an amazing place to raise kids, to have fun and to enjoy life with amazing food and a culture unique to themselves. These Hoosiers are proud of their state but even more proud of their city.
So you can be as Grinchy as you want to be, but the people in Fort Wayne know exactly how to handle you.
Did we miss anything? Tell us what you think is unique about Fort Wayne in the comments below!