The laughs and voices of Muncie citizens sitting at a long table encompassed the atmosphere.
The instruments of a local band played in the background.
The scent of fresh barbecue rose from the grill.
These are some of the many ways to describe Thursday’s Muncie Bridge Dinner 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. on the Washington Street Bridge in Muncie, Indiana.
(Video by Jake Williams and edited by Elissa Maudlin)
From food, city merchandise and live music, the scene was alive and active with the community of Muncie. The Muncie Action Plan, along with several other hosts, kicked off the fresh fall season with this free event for all attendees.
An event that aimed to successfully attract all ages and demographics, including families, and even the newest of Ball State University students. First-year student Jonathan Lee, felt welcomed to the Muncie community beyond just a college campus.
“I haven’t even been into Muncie other than eating fries and rice,” Lee said. “It reminds me a lot of Madison, Indiana, which is where my dad grew up.”
The feeling of a local community brought out some corresponding parallels between Lee’s hometown and Muncie, providing some semblance of home.
“They [Madison] have a downtown celebration as well, and it’s not food trucks, but it’s a similar sort of [environment with] everyone standing around,” Lee said. “You don’t get the cliques of the rich and the poor. You get everyone to come out to this and see what the populace is made up of.”
Muncie’s Bridge Dinner went through a couple shaky circumstances, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the event underwent a two-year hiatus after 2019, which left Contributors Jeff Robinson and Cheryl Crowder along with the rest of the staff making decisions ending with cancellations.
“We didn’t do it in 2020 and then in 2021 we were going to do it, but the scheduled date was right when the Delta variant spike happened,” Robinson said. “So we made the decision to cancel it at that time.”
However, past experience led to a straightforward process setting up the event, and getting Muncie’s Bridge dinner back on track.
“I think it was really easy to do [set up],” Crowder said. “We have a really tight committee. Everybody knows their jobs. If there was something that didn’t work, then we figured that out.”
While fresh, new inventions aren’t out of the picture, the only aspect necessary for attracting the Muncie community is the actual community itself.
“For us, it’s really about community,” Robinson said. “It’s the people that are the event, and just breaking bread together, and I don’t know how you can add to that.”
Muncie’s Bridge Dinner not only provided numerous choices of food to feed hungry mouths, but “bridged” the gap between all of Muncie.
“There’s no bad place to be on the bridge,” Crowder said.