By Michelle Kinsey, Ball State University’s Office of Community Engagement—
MUNCIE, IN – It’s one of Cheryl Crowder’s favorite downtown events.
“Muncie’s Bridge Dinner is a beautiful gathering of people from all walks of life, just enjoying each other’s company,” she said.
Crowder, events director for Muncie Downtown Development Partnership, has been involved in the planning of the event since it began in 2017.
This year’s free event, set for April 27, is no exception. In fact, she and other Dinner planners – most of them have been involved since Day 1 – gathered near the bridge Thursday to discuss final details and the weather.
They all agreed that it is going to be a beautiful day for the dinner, which will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. But, just in case, the rain date will be May 4.
Dinner guests can purchase food and beverages from local vendors – or bring their own – and take a seat at one of the large community tables on the historic bridge to enjoy music and, of course, the beautiful views of the White River.
Music will be provided by DJ Kendrick Shadoan from KLS Digital and food vendors will include Neighborhood Pizza, Three Bears Concessions, Payne’s, Sea Salt & Cinnamon, Karma Kitchen, and Downtown Farm Stand.
Thanks to Shafer Leadership Academy, 100 residents in neighborhoods closest to the bridge (Old West End and Riverside-Normal City) will receive vouchers for dinner from the vendors.
“It makes the event more accessible for our neighbors,” said Brad King, who is president of the Old West End Neighborhood Association and a member of the Bridge Dinner planning team.
More than 15 groups and organizations are involved in the planning and support of this annual dinner, and that includes a very creative group of kindergarten, first and third grade students at Burris Laboratory School.
The students in Danielle Phelps’s art classes created 152 flowers for this year’s dinner using pool noodles, pipe cleaners, coffee filters and scraps of paper.
“I wanted to try and use as many recycled materials as I could, but also unconventional items as well,” Phelps said, adding that she was thrilled with the results. “I adore their flowers! I am very proud of the work that they did and how excited they were to make them.”
Muncie’s Bridge Dinner is hosted by Muncie Action Plan, City of Muncie, Shafer Leadership Academy, Muncie Downtown Development, Muncie Community Schools, Ball State Office of Community Engagement, Polcz Volbrecht Homes at RE/MAX Real Estate Groups, Muncie/Delaware County Economic Development Alliance, The Community Foundation of Muncie & Delaware County Inc., Walls Furniture, Burris Laboratory School, Woof Boom Radio, Ivy Tech Community College – Muncie, Muncie Department of Public Works, Muncie Sanitary District, and Words with Jas.
The idea for a community dinner in an unusual location was inspired by Peter Kageyama, author of “For the Love of Cities: The Love Affair Between People and Their Places” and “Love Where You Live: Creating Emotionally Engaging Places.” Peter spoke in Muncie on March 15, 2017, at Cornerstone Center for the Arts, and provided a new language for speaking about community and economic development – a language that includes words like beauty, passion, and fun.
In September 2017, the first Muncie Bridge Dinner was hosted on the Washington Street Bridge. More than a dozen organizations were involved in planning and supporting that first event. This will be the sixth dinner on the bridge.
For more information, go to www.muncieneighborhoods.org/bridgedinner
What: Muncie’s Spring Bridge Dinner
When: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 27 (Rain date: May 4)
Where: Washington Street Bridge
* Local food and drink options for purchase – or bring your own
* Community tables to eat with neighbors, friends, and new acquaintances
* One-of-a-kind view of the bridge, White River Greenway, and White River!
Getting there: There is easy pedestrian and biking access from the White River Greenway. Parking is available within walking distance at Tuhey Park.