First-ever Streetfest a delight for C-U residents

Ben Dixon, 11, throws a football at an Arrelious Benn throwing target outside of Gameday Sprit. Wes Anderson

Ben Dixon, 11, throws a football at an Arrelious Benn throwing target outside of Gameday Sprit. Wes Anderson

By Susan Kantor

Ella Carder came to the Campustown Streetfest looking for a blue balloon and wasn’t satisfied with the green one that she had.

“We’re going to go find some blue balloons here,” the 3-year-old Champaign resident said. “My favorite colors are blue and red and the last ones are green and purple.”

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Carder came to Green Street with her parents and two younger sisters Saturday afternoon to see the sights of the first Campustown Streetfest – a day-long event designed to bring local residents into an area that is usually crowded with students.

The day, however, did not begin as sunny as it ended. Thunderstorms were still moving through the area when the event began at 11 a.m.

“We were watching the radar all night,” said Eric Bussell, Cold Stone Creamery franchise owner and chairman of the Campustown Business Group, which organized the event. “We were kind of expecting the worst and hoping for the best after looking at the weather.”

But by mid-afternoon, the thunder had ceased and the streets had dried and Green Street was filled with people milling around the games and stands set up. Tables were soon placed outside many of the businesses and people were able to enjoy most of the activities that were scheduled. The inflatables that were scheduled were not at the fest, however.

“The rain and the timing really hurt us with the inflatables,” Bussell said.

Goats, ducks and other farm animals spent their morning in a truck, but were able to come out to play around noon near the corner of Sixth and Green streets as part of a petting zoo.

“We show up rain or shine and stay as long as they want us to stay,” said Brad Muesing, crew leader for Miller’s Petting Zoo.

Dawn Watkins, St. Joseph resident, brought her 4-year-old son Brian to Streetfest to see the sights, including the animals at the petting zoo. Watkins said she usually comes to Campustown for lunch when the students are gone, but she likes to see the different stores and explore because she doesn’t get to do that often.

More people took advantage of the specials and giveaways businesses were offering once the weather cleared as well.

“We started at 11 right when it was pouring and nobody was around and it was kind of eerie,” said Victor Woehlke, a senior in LAS who was serving hotdogs and “sliders” for $1 outside of Murphy’s Pub. Woehlke said that they had been busy since the weather cleared – by 3 p.m., Murphy’s had sold 136 sliders and 90 hotdogs.

Bussell said that everything had gone as planned at the event and that it had exceeded his expectations for the first year. He hopes that this year will create a buzz and the event will continue to build and grow.