Since 1988, jazz legends and jazz fans have come together each summer for one memorable weekend at the Elkhart Jazz Festival. Combining warm, intimate, small town hospitality with the excitement of big city jazz, the Elkhart Jazz Festival has become an internationally acclaimed event.
During its inaugural weekend in 1988, the festival welcomed 67 musicians and 3,000 jazz enthusiasts. Today, the festival showcases more than 100 performers and draws an audience of 15,000 to our community celebration of America’s classic art form – jazz.
Why the phenomenal growth? It’s because of the extraordinary efforts of hundreds of community volunteers. More than 200 dedicated men, women and teens donate their time throughout the weekend to bring the festival to life. They set up stages, take ticket orders, help people find their seats, announce the acts, transport musicians, move equipment…and much more.
Playing a crucial supporting role in the festival are the numerous corporate sponsors, the City of Elkhart, loyal patrons and other benefactors. In addition, many of the instruments featured during the festival are provided courtesy of area musical instrument manufacturers, such as Ludwig Drums, Conn-Selmer Musical Instruments, and Shirk’s Piano. Popularly known as the Band Instrument Capital of the World, Elkhart’s companies employ nearly 2,000 skilled craftspersons in the production of instruments that give voice to music.
The Elkhart Jazz Festival is perhaps the only volunteer-delivered jazz festival in the nation. And it’s only one reason that Elkhart is known as “The City with a Heart.”