TERRE HAUTE —
If you think planning a party for a dozen friends is tough, try planning one for 10,000 people.
That’s what organizers of the Downtown Terre Haute Block Party have been facing for months – and now the party is just around the corner.
Saturday, in fact, is the day thousands of people are invited to visit downtown Terre Haute for music, games, food, locally made arts and crafts and more.
“We hope for a huge turnout,” said Boo Lloyd, owner of Boo’s Crossroads Café and founder of the event. “It’s a huge task to pull five blocks of businesses and residences together.”
Without a doubt the most anticipated feature at this year’s third annual block party will be the “Hauteans in Motion” zip line on North Fifth Street between Wabash Avenue and Cherry Street. The new attraction is already generating a lot of banter, said Ariane King, operations coordinator for Downtown Terre Haute Inc.
“People are daring each other” to ride the line, King said. “I just think it’s going to be the biggest attraction that we have.”
The zip line, which costs $5 to ride, opens at 1 p.m., which is also when the Block Party kicks off. The last of the music shows will wrap up about midnight or 12:30 a.m. Sunday.
Mayor Duke Bennett has been drafted to inaugurate the zip line. He’ll take the first ride around 1 p.m. – or maybe the second.
“Hopefully, we’ll have somebody to test it before hand,” King said. “I’m sure [the mayor] would appreciate that.”
“As mayor, you do a lot of things you might not otherwise do,” Bennett said laughing. “This might be one of those things.”
Other than the zip line, much about the Block Party is free. There is no admission charge despite five stages with live music, Lloyd noted.
In addition to food, the Block Party serves up a lot of handmade crafts and arts products. All of it is locally produced by hand, Lloyd said.
Most vendors start setting up Saturday morning, King said.
Although the Block Party is just in its third year, “it’s already running like a well-oiled machine,” said Marla Flowers of Hulman & Co., who is in charge of logistics for the big day.
The Block Party started in 2011, but has much deeper roots, dating back to the 1990s with what was known as the Terre Haute Brewfest or “Bleemel Days.” Around 2005, the Brewfest was taken over by Downtown Terre Haute Inc. and merged with the Arts Illiana Crossroads Arts Festival and the Vigo County Public Library’s Family Learning Day.
This year’s festival will stretch from Fourth to Ninth streets. The area between Cherry and Ohio streets downtown will be closed to vehicular traffic for the festival.
A kids' zone, motorcycle show, police and fire vehicles, a vintage car show and stagecoach rides are just some of the attractions. Last year’s big success story was a corn hole tournament, which will be at Sixth and Wabash again this year. Registration for the 6:30 tournament is at 5:30 p.m.
As for the big unknown factor, the weather, it’s cooperated in years past and, organizers hope Mother Nature will again smile on the party.
“I don’t even look at the weather” forecast, King said. “When people start asking about it, I just tell them, ‘Don’t. Stop talking.’”
The Block Party raises money for Downtown Terre Haute Inc. through dozens of sponsorships and vendor fees, Flowers said. Union Hospital has once again stepped up to be the presenting sponsor, she said. The zip line is sponsored by UAP Clinic.
For more information, visit the Block Party’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dthblockparty.
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or firstname.lastname@example.org