Cole Porter Festival back with new events, more music

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May 24—PERU — The annual Cole Porter Festival is set to honor Peru's hometown Broadway composer with new events, including a battle of the bands competition, after the festival was cancelled last year due to the pandemic.

Running from June 10-13, festival organizers say the event aims to immerse visitors in all things Porter, and provide a unique experience to appreciate and celebrate the composer who wrote songs like "Anything Goes," "You're the Top" and "I Get a Kick Out of You."

The festival starts on Thursday with Cole's Culinary Courses, which are modeled after his famous dinner parties at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. The progressive style dinner takes place at three different establishments downtown from 6 to 9 p.m.

On Friday, Lunch with Mr. Porter will be held at the Miami County Artisan Gallery, 20 N. Broadway, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., when Peru High School Choir Director Jason Gornto will portray Porter and play his songs on a 1924 Steinway Model M grand piano.

Later, Charles Troy, a musical theatre historian and graphic designer, will offer a mixed media presentation at the Riverview Event Center, located at 421 W. Canal St.

From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., a festival first called Jazz on the Square will feature jazz saxophonist Don Smith playing music under the festival tent on 5th Street and Broadway.

The music keeps going during another new event called Cole's Roaring 20's Party inside the Miami County Artisan Gallery, 20 N. Broadway. The flapper-themed event gives visitors a chance to dance to popular songs from present day over the last 100 years. The event runs from 9:30 p.m. to midnight.

On Saturday, the festival kicks off with another presentation by Charles Troy from 8:45 to 9:30 p.m. That morning, guided bus tours will be available to local Porter sites, including his birthplace, gravesite and his family's gardens.

"Music at the Museum" will be held at the Miami County Museum on 51 N. Broadway, where Porter favorites will be performed live by regional and local talent. The event starts at 11 a.m.

From 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, singer and choral director James Edelfelt and singer, composer and music director Elizabeth Doyle will put on "De-Lovely: an Evening of Cole Porter." The show includes both solos and duets and will be held at Peru High School's auditorium.

The music keeps coming Saturday during an experimental event called "Cole's Cover Tune Contest." The battle-of-the-bands styled event will feature artists performing Porter tunes, but in the style of rock, pop and alternative music. Bands compete for a grand prize of $1,000. The songs will be performed in the style of the band's choosing.

The free, tented event begins at 9 p.m. and runs until midnight outside of Club 14 on the corner of Canal Street at 115 S. Broadway. Food and drink will be available for purchase.

On Sunday, the festival's classic "Old Fashioned Ice Cream Social" is back under the festival tent from 1 to 3 p.m., with entertainment from the Swampwater Stompers, a traditional Dixieland jazz band, and Kokomo Men of Note, a barbershop quartet. Ice cream is compliments of Blair Ridge Health Campus.

Reservations for all the events may be made at the Miami County Museum, or by calling 765-473-9183 or going to Eventbrite. For a full list of events and prices, visit

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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