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Valparaiso has a solidly sizzling reputation for summers that are so much fun they’re magical. It’s a city known for sensory delight and cultural indulgence, and the opportunities to overwhelm your senses abound in the summer months. From music and movies perfectly suited to hazy summer nights to a community-wide art competition and celebration featuring renowned local artists, Valparaiso infuses the all-too-short Region summer season with fun-filled events that are far from boring.

‘Pop-Up: A Valparaiso Art Experience’

Great gatherings throughout the summer months are nothing new for Valparaiso, but there is a new event for 2016 that will prove to any doubters that art is not exclusively for the stereotypically elite or “art snobs.” From July 7-17, during “Pop-Up: A Valparaiso Art Experience,” artwork from around the Region will “pop-up” in community businesses for people of all ages to enjoy.

Not only does “Pop-Up” provide Region residents with the opportunity to enjoy treasures created by local artists, it gives people a chance to express their appreciation by voting for the art they most enjoy. “This regional art competition will highlight the talent and creativity of our community,” says Jennifer Peek, marketing director of Valparaiso Events. “It will also allow attendees the opportunity to explore numerous exhibits and help select a winner.”

People can vote for their favorite art at any of the voting stations, which will be set up at participating venues throughout the “Pop-Up” event or online. Winners will be chosen across a spectrum of media categories, with three prizes in each category ranging from $500 to $2,500.

“Pop-Up” is a collaboration between nonprofits Valparaiso Events, which hosts more than 80 days of Valparaiso events annually, and the Enclave Project, whose mission goes beyond exhibiting art to integrating education and the arts to serve local and emerging artists, local businesses, and the community at large.

Artist Robin Janota raves, “I’ve been acquainted with the Enclave Project for a few seasons now, and I love their vision. This ‘Pop-Up’ project provides the opportunity for artists to show their work and get feedback from the community, which is invaluable. The prizes are frosting on the cake.”

The interactive event is all about making art accessible, both to local artists and to community residents of all ages. “The ‘Pop-Up’ will not only bring amazing art and culture to Valparaiso, it will also emphasize the arts that already call Valparaiso home,” says Phillip Herrold, co-founder of the Enclave Project.

Other Valparaiso Happenings

The list of summer indulgences in Valparaiso is as endless as the heat of an Indiana summer day. Here’s a sampling of some of the sweetest Valparaiso summer events:

Summer Outdoor Movies: June 21, 28; July 5, 12, 19, 26

What better way to savor the slowed-down flavor of summer than by enjoying a movie outdoors under a starry sky? For Region families, it can be difficult to find affordable, family-friendly outings, but on select summer Tuesdays the whole family (and even a few of your best friends and fondest acquaintances) can come out to Central Park Plaza to enjoy free movies that start at dusk. Movie selections range from recent blockbusters to nostalgic favorites. Bring your loved ones, along with a comfy blanket or lawn chairs, relax, and enjoy the show.

Valparaiso Food and Wine Festival: Saturday, July 16, 2016

Any worthwhile event that features wine isn’t free, of course, but the smorgasbord of palate-pleasing selections available at the Valparaiso Food and Wine Festival in Central Park Plaza is more than worth the reasonable price of admission.

Enjoy dishes from some of Valparaiso’s best restaurants, including Kelsey’s, Sage, Bon Femme, Lucrezia, and Don Quijote Restaurante. A taste of Valparaiso’s best dishes is only $35 per ticket, but for $75 you can pair your cuisine with selections from some of the Region’s best wineries with over 60 varieties of wine available. Live entertainment tops off the unforgettable evening.

Valparaiso Popcorn Festival: Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016

Come September, summer is coming to a close, but Valparaiso sends it off in a big way with its nationally renowned Popcorn Festival. Now in its 38th year, the Popcorn Festival, held in downtown Valparaiso, is fun for all ages. From the Valparaiso Popcorn Parade and top-notch musical entertainment, to the Popcorn Panic Run/Walk and the Lit’l Kernel Puff Race, the Valparaiso Popcorn Festival is considered a Region “bucket list” event. And, as with any Indiana event that stays true to its Midwest roots, there are dozens of food, kids’ games, and arts and crafts booths to keep the festivities hopping.

In Valparaiso, there’s no shortage of happenings to add value and pure fun to your summer days and nights. As Peek says, “With such a wide variety of events, there is something for everyone to enjoy this summer!”