In the Spotlight with Terra Brantley (Ribfest, Heartland Sings Vocal Conference, and Juneteenth)

Updated: Jun. 17, 2022 at 7:15 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - On Friday, ABC21 and 89.1 WBOI launched their partnership franchise In the Spotlight — a weekly segment hosted by WBOI president and general manager Terra Brantley. The debut marks her return to television, after anchoring news for 28 years in Fort Wayne prior. Brantley joined Northeast Indiana Public Radio in January, and will be expanding coverage of local culture and entertainment for both WPTA and WBOI.

RELATED: Terra Brantley to host ‘In the Spotlight’ on ABC21


Ribfest is a staple of summer in downtown Fort Wayne. Now in its 25th year, the annual event serves over 25 tons of BBQ each year! Around 40,000 people gather at Headwaters Park to feast on ribs, pulled pork, BBQ chicken, and more. Ribfest takes place from June 16-19 — you can find more information here.

Heartland Sings Vocal Arts Conference

Croninger Elementary wrapped up another school year on May 26th. But for music teacher Brianne Flanagin — there was one more opportunity to have her graduating 5th grade students perform for our cameras. “As a music teacher, I spend a lot of my day facilitating music for students, but I don’t often have the opportunity to be a part of an ensemble myself,” she told us, “and make music that keeps me inspired and keeps me going.”

But this weekend, the teacher will become the student. Flanagin plans to sharpen her skills during the summer, at the Heartland Sings Vocal Arts Conference, which takes place at the Rhinehart Music Center on the PFW campus, from June 16-18. There, Flanagin and hundreds of other vocalists, choral directors, and educators will find inspiration and education themselves. Three guest artists include Dr. George Shirley (the first African-American to sing lead parts at the Metropolitan Opera), Karen Brunssen (Northwestern University Bienen School of Music Chair), and Darmon Meader (founder and music director of New York Voices).

After several days of workshops and rehearsals, the artists will perform the opera The Three Hermits by Stephen Paulus, and Lux Aeterna by Morton Lauridsen. Flanagin is anxiously awaiting her turn, in the spotlight. “I know I’ll be nervous the day of for sure,” she said. “There’s never not going to be a performance, that I’m not nervous of, but I have 600 students cheering me on!” You can find more information on the Heartland Sings Vocal Arts Conference here.


Throughout the week, Juneteenth events have been held across Fort Wayne. It’s all part of the annual Macknificent Freedom Fest. Saturday, The Art Leadership Center will be in the spotlight during the afternoon commemoration of the holiday — with youth showing their step and dance performance. Founder Adrian Curry teaches the art form, which involves a lot of discipline. “It is a lot of holds. They train by holding their position, learning how to breath,” he told Brantley. “The idea isn’t so much for me to make sure they are tight, but they need to learn to control their own vehicles. So on Tuesday, Thursdays, and Friday before 4 and 8 p.m, we do a lot of holds, a lot of training, we watch our diets, we stretch and we get ready to do this high-impact form of dancing called ‘stepping’.”

“Throughout this journey I have grown bonds with every single person out here,” student Desire Buckhanon told us, “and it just teaches you a lot of elements in life that you need to know.” WBOI has additional information on Curry and the kids here.

The scheduled events for Saturday include:

  • Keepers of the Light Ceremony at 10 a.m.
  • The Art Leadership Center Promenade at 11:30 a.m.
  • Macknificent Freedom Fest Opening Ceremony at 1:20 p.m.
  • Mack Fest All-Star Game Showcases at 2:15 p.m.

On Sunday, Juneteenth, you can attend a free, half-day virtual/interactive conference called Healing Racial Trauma with Dr. Joy DeGruy: A Juneteenth Commemoration (from 12:30-4:00 p.m.) You can find more information on the Macknificent Freedom Fest here.

Coming up next week, Terra Brantley travels to Warren — the town making final preparations for the Salamonie Summer Festival. That segment will air Friday June 24 at 7 p.m.

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