Champaign County prepares for Urbana Sweetcorn Festival

By Andrew Yoon

The 39th annual Urbana Sweetcorn Festival is just around the corner. The festival, projected to have about 50,000 attendees, will include food, family activities, a car show and musical performances from Candy Foster and Shades of Blue, 90’s Daughter, Feudin Hillbillys, Decadents, Brushville and headliner Eddie Money.

The festival will take place on Main Street in downtown Urbana from 5 p.m. Friday until 11 p.m. Saturday. The festival serves as an official welcome for incoming and returning University students and a free event for the community to enjoy.

A lot of work goes into preparing for an event at the scale of the Sweetcorn Festival.

“Festival preparations for each year basically begin as soon as we wrap up the previous festival,” said Coordinator Cynthia Chandler.

Planning then continues into the fall and winter months.

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    The festival has over 100 vendors, including 30 food vendors, but it has a waiting list every year due to its growing popularity.

    “We don’t necessarily look to grow in size, but we have new features each year to help draw excitement,” Chandler said. “This year’s festival is going to have a third entertainment stage performing folk and root to help draw in a bigger crowd.”

    SJ Broadcasting is a main sponsor of the festival alongside the Urbana Business Association. Josh Laskowski, promotions director and morning show host at SJ Broadcasting, said he hopes to create a local festival that will help the community thrive.

    “We have partnered with the UBA and Sweetcorn since I arrived at the radio group over seven years ago,” Laskowski said.

    The festival attracts students from other universities, such as Steven Zhdanov, sophomore from DePaul University.

    “My friends came down here last year for the festival and they had a blast,” Zhdanov said. “I love corn and I can’t wait to see what this festival can do.”

    Zhdanov said he believes the festival will be well worth the seven-hour trip.

    “Not only do I get to have fun before my school starts, but I get to see a festival that not only commemorates students but the culture of Illinois as well,” he added.

    Andrew can be reached at [email protected].