The mission of the 500 Festival is to produce life-enriching events and programs while celebrating the spirit and legacy of the Indianapolis 500 and fostering positive impact on the city of Indianapolis and state of Indiana. As an organization providing multiple events and programs, many of which are free to attend and impact over 500,000 people annually, our mission to enrich lives and positively impact our community is wholly inclusive and applies to anyone.
Whether attending the IPL 500 Festival Parade, participating in the Chase 500 Festival Kids’ Day, running in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon or serving as a 500 Festival volunteer, the 500 Festival welcomes participation from everyone and we’re confident that our participants will continue to experience the Hoosier hospitality that we pride ourselves upon. The Expo is open to the public, with over 40,000 people attending.
Not only the largest half-marathon in the U.S., but the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon received praise in Runners World, listed as one of "A Half Dozen Hot Halfs" in the world, based on participant experience in the 13.1-mile half-marathon.
|Elkins Park PA
|Anna Rohrer (heiny)
|Grand Rapids MI
|Saint Charles IL
|Fort Wayne IN
For more than five decades, the 500 Festival has shown commitment and excellence by producing a month-long series of programs and events celebrating the Indianapolis 500.
In 1957, four Indianapolis businessmen got together and organized a parade and square dance gala, celebrating the Indianapolis 500. The men who set the framework for what is now one of the largest festivals in the nation are former Indianapolis Mayor Alex Clark; Joe Quinn, Safety Director for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; J. Worth Baker, Shrine Potentate in 1957 and Howard Wilcox, promotions director for the Indianapolis Star.
The parade was the 500 Festival’s first event back in 1957.More than 150,000 spectators lined the parade route. All 9,000 reserved chair seats were full. Just as today, the Boy Scouts handled seating. Indiana Power and Light had a float in that parade, and it has continued to participate in the parade ever since then.
Later that evening, over 500 people danced to Woody Herman’s Orchestra on the fifth floor of the Indiana Roof Ballroom for the Governor’s Ball.Tickets to the gala were $5 a couple. Fifty years later this event continues on under the name Snakepit Ball.
By the end of June 1957, Festival organizers met to debrief and began planning for the next year’s festival. Their mission was to create a bigger and better festival in 1958. This devotion and diligence set the spirit and speed for every 500 Festival since.