PERU — The weekend celebrating Peru native Cole Porter is a glance into 1930s-era Hollywood, with mimosas, music and more.
Every second weekend in June, the town of Peru celebrates Porter, who wrote over 1,500 songs for Broadway productions, movies, and television. This year's festival starts Thursday with a wine tasting and ends Sunday with an ice cream social.
This year there are three new events: Lunch with Mr. Porter, a white wine and champagne lunch with Jason Gornto portraying Porter; and Anything Goes: A Kid's Talent Show showcasing youth talent in Peru on Friday.
On Saturday, there is the Wake Up with Cole breakfast with the music of Porter, the festival's co-chair Vicki Draper said.
"We've been trying to add some new, fun events in the past few years," she said. Draper has been involved in the 27-year-old festival for the past four years.
Draper said some of her favorites include the old-fashioned ice cream social and the Garden Luncheon, featuring champagne and mimosas.
There are several kid-friendly events, though. In addition to the Friday night talent show, the festival falls on Second Saturday, which offers several family-friendly events. There will be pony rides, a petting zoo and arts and crafts, Draper said.
"Peru is so generous to us," she said. "The (town) always helps out in any way they can."
The festival's co-chair, Ellen Mock, said in an email that the many sponsors, as well as the festival's production partner, Rediscovering Downtown Peru, have been instrumental to the festival.
“Cole Porter is and has always been a source of pride for Peru, Indiana. We work with a number of community leaders and volunteers to create an unforgettable experience every June," Mock said.
Rediscovering Downtown Peru's Marketing Director Kassi Kotkoski said working with the festival has been a wonderful experience.
"We offer advice and help with volunteers or anything else that we can," she said. "With it falling on Second Saturday, it's a busy weekend but it's such a blast."
This is Kotkoski's third year involved in the festival, but she's been an attendee since childhood.
"I can remember going when I was young," she said. "I remember thinking, 'Oh, what is this Cole Porter thing?' And now I'm older and can really enjoy it. I've made some great memories."
For Kotkoski, her favorite event is Cocktails and Cole at the historic Roberts House.
"You get dolled up and see people you don't usually see in that light," she said. "Everything is beautiful, music is playing. It's almost like a step back in time."
The legacy of the Hollywood musician is far more than festival fun and nostalgia. The Cole Porter Scholarship Program is given to a rising, local artist, Mock said in an email.
The scholarship is awarded to a Mocanaquah High School student. The student must be pursuing a Bachelor of Arts or Music or a teaching certificate in one of the Fine Arts.
The 2018 Cole Porter Scholarship Winner, Joshua Cantanzaro, will be honored during Celebrating Cole: Cole Porter and the '30s on Saturday evening.
"The family of Cole Porter continues to encourage and uplift our young artists through the Cole Porter Scholarship Program. This program supports both visual and performing artists as they seek a degree in the arts," Mock said.
Many of the past scholarship winners are now full-time musicians, teachers and performers and come back to perform at the festival, she said. For example, Zak Tschiniak, a former Cole Porter scholar, will be one of the featured artists at the festival.
Tschiniak, a Butler University graduate, is now the director of orchestras at Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers. He directs orchestra, conducts the musical pit and teaches music theory and keyboarding.
Visit www.coleporterfestival.org for more information.