"Joe Taft wants his bedroom back. For four months it's been inhabited by a baby tiger named Max, while Taft, who's 60, crashes on the couch. "I can't get him out of my house until I move these other cats into the new pens being built," he says. "Then I can finally have a bedroom. The walls are pretty raggedy in there." He means claw marks, like the ones in his kitchen and living room. Download PDF [for full article.]" May 20, 2006.
In its 1980s heyday northwest Indiana’s AugustFest brought the Guess Who, the Marshall Tucker Band, and Koko Taylor to industrial Hammond, but in later years it started to draw a seedy crowd. By the time the city canned it in 2000, it was known locally as “CritterFest.” Its replacement, the three-year-old, family-friendly Festival of the Lakes, focuses on the area’s water—lakes Michigan, Wolf, and George. And since the city has been working on turning brownfield sites into green space, the festival highlights those improvements with outdoorsy events. Wolf Lake has carnival rides and a pontoon outing alongside its music stage (Cheap Trick, the Temptations), and the Hammond Marina showcases a Lake Michigan bird sanctuary and hosts a floating polka party. George Lake has the most weirdly intriguing attraction: the new $40 million Lost Marsh Golf Course. Formerly a slag heap, Lost Marsh is now full of rolling hills and cleaned-up water hazards, though it’s still flanked by smokestacks and oil tanks. Is there anything more American than standing in a fairway that used to be a toxic hill, hot dog and lemonade in hand, watching geese fly beneath a hovering cloud of pollution? Wed-Sun 7/19-7/23, Hammond, Indiana, 219-853-6378 or thefestivalofthelakes.com. —Gretchen Kalwinski