BAALS is a multi-genre music festival, with a focus on electronic dance music. The event is strategically located in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana. Every year the festival also earmarks and donates $5,000 to a local charity.
The event began in 2012 as a downtown block party called #House4aHouse. It was originally hosted by a downtown advocacy group, A Better Fort who shut down the 800th block of South Calhoun Street (So-Cal) on the opening night of the Three Rivers Festival. The one of kind live experience attracted citizens of all ages garnering over 2,000 attendees in it’s inaugural year.
Around that time, the city of Fort Wayne had become the rear-end of jokes revolving around a former mayor’s name, Harry Baals. When the city began exploring names for a new city building, it opened up the process to public voting and the top ranking name was the “Harry Baals Government Center.” That’s right. Baals. In no short order, the internet, major news outlets, and even the Jimmy Kimmel Show were in on the gag.
The festival’s leaders took some umbrage and in 2014, with the attention and momentum of previous year’s success changed it’s name to BAALS, taking the recently publicized stereotypes and rhetoric, poking fun at them and embracing them as something of the past. The festival leaders set out to make it clear that through this premier live event the city, in fact, has #Baals. That year, BAALS Music Fesitval garnered over 10,000 in attendance outgrowing it’s original location and expanding into Headwater’s Park.
In just a few years, BAALS has grown into one of the largest and premier EDM music festivals in the Midwest and has been able to donate over $15,000 to local charity and create an event that is talked about year round.