Nine vendors and a pop-up restaurant are planned for 2015 Elkhart Jazz Festival

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By: Geoff Lesar
glesar@flavor574.com

James Buck / The Elkhart Truth

As music fills the air at the 2015 Elkhart Jazz Festival, so too will wafts of deep fried fragrance and classic fair foods. 

Nine vendors are scheduled to fill Elkhart Civic Plaza for the annual event taking place Friday, June 19 through Sunday, June 21, featuring more than 30 acts blowing and strumming throughout the downtown area. 

In addition to the mobile vendors, South Bend’s Cafe Navarre will operate a pop-up restaurant outside The Lerner Theatre on Main Street. The menu will include a la carte salads, sandwiches, entrees and desserts, all served on traditional restaurant china.

On Saturday, June 20 and Sunday, June 21, the winner of Elkhart’s Lemonade Day Best Stand contest will be set up near the festival’s designated beverage area.

“The interesting thing for us is the diverse crowd. We get a lot of people from all over the world, actually,” said Joe Wisler, Jazz Festival sound engineer and food vendor coordinator. He also owns Joe’s Gyros, one of the vendors that feeds the fest.

“I’ve sat and talked to guys who were on tour groups from Japan and Australia at the Jazz Festival over the years,” he said. “We get such a more diverse crowd than we do at most of the other things we do. It’s local people that come to those events, but not the Jazz Festival. They could be from anywhere and that’s fun.”

Wisler began volunteer work at the festival in 1989, twisting knobs and sliding faders as the event’s lead sound engineer, a position he still holds today.  

“We got the food business (Joe’s Gyros) in ’91 and our first Jazz Festival with food was either ’93 or ’94,” he said. “We’ve been doing it ever since.”

Now in its 25th season of serving Greek grub around the Indiana and Michigan festival circuit, Joe’s Gyros is a Wisler family business built on original recipes, including the popular chicken gyro and Wisler’s signature starch.   

“One thing we get people hooked on is the broasted potatoes. It’s deep fried under pressure and they come out really tender inside and then we put a little butter and Greek seasoning on them,” Wisler said. “And people, once they try it, they do it again. And then again. And then again.”

Vendors set up in the Civic Plaza food court this year include:

All vendors will accept cash and some will accept credit cards.

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