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Tales From A Scene: 8 Years of Rebel Arts Festival, South Bend

(All photos by Justin Flagel)

We spent yesterday in South Bend's Potawatomi Park, enjoying a full day of art, live music, food, and drink.

For eight years the Rebel Arts Festival has been the immersive, experiential proof that this region is overflowing with creativity & art and that the tame view often put forth about the Midwest's more rural regions is counterfactual. To be brief, Michiana likes it weird, wonderful, and full of joy.

The Rebel Arts Festival is a one day event. Artisan vendors from around the region take over

the park, lining the paths with creative wares; fine art, artisan craft work, delicious food & drink, and oddities that defy categorization. Seasoning up the event are two stages of live music, swapping sets the entire day with the finest in local musicianship. Food trucks and tents line the streets and the beer garden provides the liquid satisfaction to wash down your

latest snack (of which I had many). Interactive options are also available, including flower crowns, face painting, rock art, and chalking the dance floor. RAF volunteers patrol the grounds attentively, including event founders Nathaniel and Michelle FitzGerald.

I spent much of my day helping Kristin in her Wicked Pop Candle Company booth. Wandering the loop, I ran into plenty of friends from the scene and from other walks of life. I even made some new ones, including the children by the stage who never tired of having me bounce their beach ball around the chalk-covered dance floor for them to chase.

The highlight for me, of course, was the live music. Two stages, the Chris Wilson Pavilion and a smaller stage set opposite, traded performances every half an hour from noon until 7pm, when Joe Baughman + The Righteous Few closed the day on the main stage. Performers gave us all of the flavors, from hip hop to rock to electronic to the oft-lauded "genre-defying", with sounds loud, hammering, graceful, and sweet. Individuals rocked simply a mic or MIDI while groups...well, I'm not exactly sure what you call a collection of people dressed as ice cream sundae ingredients...a pandemonium? And were those graduation gowns or choir uniforms? Any way, there were big groups of people playing lots of instruments, often in costume. Friends, we had fun.

Check out the bands and a massive photodump below:



Leather Phase


Why Not Both

Freeze Etch

Pack Sounds


The Tentakills

Tigershark Don't Quit


Hey Zeus

Rebel Noire & The Accomplices

Infinite Buffalo

Joe Baughman & The Righteous Few

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