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Dive into Downtown Muncie, Indiana

An emerging entrepreneur scene makes Muncie a great place to thrive.

By Jennifer Lynn Alvarez on May 15, 2023

Downtown Muncie
Nathan Lambrecht

Muncie was incorporated in 1865, and throughout its history, stakeholders have developed a vision for downtown as a center for the arts and community gatherings.

“Downtown is not done. It will always be growing,” says Cheryl Crowder, event director at Muncie Downtown Development Partnership (MDDP).

With 21 years of experience at MDDP, Crowder has enjoyed a front-row seat to Muncie’s growth. Walnut Street was 90% vacant 21 years ago, Crowder says. Now, Muncie’s downtown is thriving with its low cost of living, vibrant businesses and focus on artists. Crowder appreciates the community partners that have made this revitalization possible.

“When you join forces, it explodes,” she says.

Thanks to this cohesive vision, new opportunities abound in Muncie for artists, students and small-business owners to create together.

The arts in East Central Indiana
Nathan Lambrecht

Creative Collaboration

Three downtown work spaces – Madjax Maker Force, Muncie Makes Lab and Cornerstone Center of the Arts – bring artists of every medium together under one roof.

“You can’t have magic without the arts,” Crowder says. “That’s what we’re all about, creating and making memories.”

Cornerstone Center for the Arts is an education hub, offering a variety of art classes for all ages.

“We are the anchor for the arts community,” says Allison Bell, president and CEO at Cornerstone. “We are focused on providing art and creative opportunities for all ages and income levels.”

The building itself serves as a piece of art. It spans 126,000 square feet with a Gothic revival architectural style.

“The building is a hidden treasure,” Bell says. “We welcome people to come take tours.”

Madjax Maker Force provides individual and collaborative spaces that include ax throwing and hair salons alongside a forge and space for woodworking and resident artists. Meanwhile, Muncie Makes Lab hosts a community of student artists and architects from Ball State University. This design, build and display space provides students with the opportunity to create and innovate.

“It’s their stories now,” Crowder says. 

JohnTom’s Barbecue sauce
Nathan Lambrecht


Named Indiana’s Favorite BBQ Sauce by Indianapolis Monthly, JohnTom’s Barbecue operates its warehouse out of Madjax Maker Force. Lathay Pegues, president and CEO, grew up cooking.

“I cooked my first dish when I was 5 years old. It was scrambled eggs,” Pegues says. Today, he recreates his grandfather’s secret barbecue sauce through trial and error.

“Working with food is definitely an art,” says Pegues, who has developed four popular sauce flavors.

The space at Madjax has allowed his business to thrive. “It’s a community,” Pegues says. “You learn how to overcome challenges by talking to neighbors in the building. I really enjoy that.”

Fun in East Central Indiana
Oscar Nunez

Heart of the City

The heartbeat of downtown Muncie is the art-centric events that set the stage for emerging talent, including First Thursdays, Arts Walk, Muncie Three Trails and After-Hours Art Reels.

A typical evening is festive and involves families setting up picnics on the lawn, children playing outside, and restaurants and businesses welcoming patrons. The events are free and attract all generations.

“First Thursdays are a big thing here in town,” Crowder says. “It’s a place you want to take visitors.”

The summer arts walk, called Flower Hour, is a particular favorite. As visitors explore all that downtown has to offer, they visit 10 different locations to pick flowers and create a custom bouquet.

Rick Zeigler created the Three Trails Music Series, and it brings people from all over the state and beyond. The lineup of musicians are all Grammy-award-winning artists, Crowder says.

The Three Trails Music Series happens four times per year, and it’s free to the community. So bring your lawnchair and get ready for some great live music.

“It brings people into town to experience and explore the three different trails in Muncie,” Zeigler says. “They finish it off with an amazing night of music.”

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Array ( [0] => 160571 [1] => 160549 [2] => 154925 [3] => 111972 [4] => 111961 [5] => 111954 [6] => 157090 [7] => 79922 )

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