31st annual Sweet Corn Festival brings fun for all ages to downtown Urbana

Steve Joebgen, then 16, right, battles with Ben Petterson, then 15, left, on an inflatable provided by Campus Recreation at the 2005 Sweet Corn Festival in Urbana. File photo

Steve Joebgen, then 16, right, battles with Ben Petterson, then 15, left, on an inflatable provided by Campus Recreation at the 2005 Sweet Corn Festival in Urbana. File photo

By Sam Cowin

The 31st annual Sweet Corn Festival will take over the streets of downtown Urbana this weekend.

The event commences tonight at 5 p.m. and closes at 11 p.m. It then continues on Saturday from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m.

Mary Dennis, business manager of the Urbana Business Association, said Wal-Mart will provide 20,000 ears of corn and 450 pounds of butter to be sold to the 40,000 people expected to attend the two-day festival.

Friday’s highlights include performances by local bands and a paint ball shooting range. 20 vendors will be present selling merchandise, crafts, beverages, corn and various other foods.

Saturday offers activities suitable for people of all ages including an antique auto show, a book market and a kid’s area.

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    “The festival will be a good time for kids, senior citizens and everyone in between,” Dennis said.

    The auto show takes place Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. in the County Plaza parking lot located across the street from the Champaign County Courthouse, 1776 E. Washington St. in Urbana.

    Dennis said, about 100 antique cars and motorcycles including cars from the early 20th century will be on display for the public to vote on.

    “We will pass out 750 ballots and the public can vote for their favorite car,” Mike Balogh, a member of the Sweet Corn Festival planning committee said. “The Motor Muster auto show is a good classroom for students of automotive history. We have a nice assortment of muscle cars and foreign cars going back to 1912.”

    Balogh said most participants in the auto show reside within 75 miles of Urbana with one man bringing two cars from Phoenix, Ariz.

    Saturday will feature five- and ten-kilometer walks through the streets of Urbana. Registration for the walks will take place in the County Plaza parking lot from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and are free of charge.

    The University Library will also be hosting a book market on Saturday. The book market takes place at Lincoln Square from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. and will offer African music and dance, bingo, bookmaking and storytelling.

    For first time visitors, Dennis recommends feasting on the corn and taking in the music.

    “People should definitely check out the sweet corn,” Dennis said, “but the must see events will be the band performances on the main stage.”