By Andrea McCann Times Sentinel Managing Editor
Zionsville Times Sentinel
---- — Some of Zionsville's talented residents will be represented at the inaugural White River Arts & Music Fest, aka WARMfest, in Broad Ripple this coming weekend. The three-day event, which will run 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday at Broad Ripple Park, 1550 Broad Ripple Ave., will "promote environmental responsibility, independent business and artisans, and sustainable goods and services through the magic of music, art and culture." It fuses Broad Ripple Music Festival, Indie Arts & Vintage Marketplace, recycling and several activities on the White River. I try to be environmentally conscious; I like to support local business when I can; and I love music, so I was intrigued by the ever-growing event when I first became aware of it. After talking to Dan Ripley, the inspiration behind WARMfest, I'm even more interested. A resident, boater and fisherman on the White River in Broad Ripple for 20 years, Ripley has a vision of restoring the White River to its grandeur of a century ago. His mission is to educate the community to envision the river as a recreational and visually appealing natural resource. To accomplish this, he created a nonprofit entity, the Carl G. Fisher Society, named for the principal founder of Indianapolis Motor Speedway who had many other achievements to his name and whose entrepreneurial spirit inspired Ripley. But, the nonprofit CGFS needs funds to reach its goals. While doing some research, Ripley discovered Broad Ripple Park was a privately owned amusement park during parts of the 19th and 20th centuries and was known as the Coney Island of the Midwest. With that revelation and a background in the nightclub and arts and antique businesses, Ripley soon came up with the idea for WARMfest. He hopes not only to maximize awareness, but also raise funds to clean up the White River and invest in it so more people can enjoy it. He's thinking docks, water taxi service, full-service marina, boardwalks and vistas, and potentially activities like a zip line park. Though focused first on the .75-mile Broad Ripple shoreline, he hopes the idea can be replicated on other areas of the river. "The purpose is really one of restoration more than development," Ripley said. But a byproduct of WARMfest will be exposure and profits for many area artists and businesses. I was delighted to learn some Zionsville residents will be on hand to make WARMfest a success. See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.