Don't You Dare Walk Off That Stage, Dr. Dog—

Before writing this Dial post, I re-read Matt’s original Dial post about Middle Waves, and had a few chuckles over his reminiscing of first meeting Corey Rader.

And I laugh, because, in many ways, I’ve had similar interactions meeting and getting to know so many of the Middle Waves team over the past couple of years.

I’ve bonded with everyone on the Middle Waves team, close and distant, over two things: a love for music, and a love for Fort Wayne. These two qualities are what make our team, and they’re what make such a huge undertaking like Middle Waves possible (in addition to things like dedication, faith and general badass-ery).

Back in November 2017, when we all sat down to talk about me getting more involved in Middle Waves, I knew it was a monster I might not be quite ready for yet. But every ounce of my being knew that it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass on. My heart broke with excitement and I could have cried.

I didn’t—then.

Photo by Danielle Doepke

As I stood in the middle of Headwaters Park on September 15, and Dr. Dog stood on our stage singing “Survive…” I cried.

Every year, I’m stuck in a moment of awe as the headliner takes the main stage on Saturday night. First, The Flaming Lips, then MGMT. This year, I felt it a little more deeply, having put so much of myself into it before actually stepping on site that weekend. An entire team of volunteers sacrificed to make this festival a reality for our community. Can you believe it?

For the third time, we made believers out of those thousands of people standing around that stage.

So as I stood there, in the middle of an ecstatic, dancing crowd, I cried tears of joy. I looked forward, staring at bright lights and a national act, and when I turned around, I saw my own skyline. Not Indianapolis’s. Not Chicago’s. Not Detroit’s. Mine.

Photo by Danielle Doepke

And a few songs after that, I actually had to leave the main stage and go sit in the office. Maybe it sounds ridic, but I didn’t want to see the end of the set. I didn’t want the night to end. It’s a wild thing—to watch nearly a year’s worth of work end in roughly 36 hours. You literally watch it walk off stage.

Photo by Danielle Doepke

While this moment hit me hardest—I’d been feeling it all day. I forced a picture with Flint Eastwood (I LOVE HER), got goose bumps during the IDLES set and my cheeks hurt from smiling during Lizzo’s set. This lineup pushed boundaries and spoke to the world we live in, and want to live in, in so many ways.

Photo by Danielle Doepke

Lemme tell ya, though—anyone who says this isn’t heart-busting work, is either lying to you, or they aren’t doing it right. I’m currently taking a break from social media, because, well, I’ve needed it for a while. I’m an introvert who’s been constantly “on” for about six months now. But worse (better), my heart just couldn’t handle all of the photos and love I saw for Middle Waves across my channels. It’s beyond fulfilling and humbling.

If you haven’t caught on yet, I might be more emotional than the average person.

I’ve got two hundred bazillion people to thank for making this year hit the way it did. My fellow board members, our sponsors, our collaborators, our extensive committee, day-of volunteers and all attendees—we could not have done any of this without each other.

Photo by Danielle Doepke

A special thank you to Matt Kelley for his guidance as I stumbled through this year, a new OLG’er and a first-timer in a MW leadership role. Your flexibility, generosity and listening ear helped me tremendously.

Photo by Danielle Doepke

And, of course, a humongous high-five and group hug to the MW marketing committee for digging in and making this festival happen. Valerie Sheets, Erin Okeson, Nick Ferran, Sean O’Leary, Matt Thomas, Zack Kittaka, Danielle Doepke and Caity Rose. I hope you own every ounce of it. Of all the things we did this year, I’m most proud of the team we built.

Thank you. Thank you for coming, for volunteering, for giving. But most of all, for letting me be a part of this. I’m so full of gratitude for this community of MW’ers (if you’re taking the time to read this, that includes you). See you all for round four in 2019.

All photos in this Dial post are courtesy of the talented Danielle Doepke.