3 local festivals you need to attend this year


Brian Bauer

A festivalgoer shows off his headwear at the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival in downtown Urbana on Saturday.

By Jess Peterson, Buzz editor

Coming to school at the University of Illinois provides students with a unique campus culture, smack dab in central Illinois. You’ll meet people from all over the world, be able to dine in a variety of restaurants and participate in a multitude of events hosted by the University and students on campus.

An added benefit are the cities surrounding the University of Illinois: Both Champaign and Urbana provide distinct characteristics, shops, eats and venues that make a charming place to spend the day or weekend.

Interested in a bigger event, not affiliated with the University? Local festivals have your back.

Urbana Sweetcorn Festival

Falling this year on Aug. 25 and 26 (a Friday and Saturday), downtown Urbana will be transformed to celebrate summer’s end within the community. Venture outside of campus boundaries for live music, face painting, carnival foods and a chance to see what culture is like if you aren’t a 20-something pursuing a degree at the University. Food tickets are relatively affordable and local business owners will also have booths set up alongside the Urbana streets selling different trinkets.

As far as music goes, you can expect a large variety, with multiple stages offering rock music, a folk & roots lineup and the “One Community Together” lineup, which features a variety of performances including local high school marching bands, a steel drums group and a traditional jazz orchestra.

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Whether you pop in for a couple hours, or both days, it’d be impossible to be bored.

Pygmalion Festival

The primary draw for students and locals to Pygmalion is for the live music performed on two large outdoor stages, and then in local bars and venues throughout downtown Champaign as well. However, this isn’t the only noteworthy aspect of the fest.

This year from Sept. 20-24 a pass to Pygmalion includes music, handmade crafts and goods, tech seminars and lectures, and appearances from writers making their way up in the literature scene. The schedule tends to have musical performances in the evenings, but you can attend talks on writing, demonstrations for local tech fanatics and the Made Fest as well.

All around it’s a fun place to spend half of your week, and one that will introduce you to the culture and people of Champaign-Urbana, outside of the student body.

Urbana First Fridays

Every first Friday of the month, downtown Urbana offers events, food and community-building opportunities, similar to the sweetcorn festival, but with socializing at the forefront rather than a harvested vegetable.

Swing by for food options outside the dining halls, Green Street or the leftover ramen in your apartment pantry and a chance to mingle with community members. Activities presented are typically family friendly, but the city makes an effort to include something interesting for everybody.

It can be easy to get swept up in classes and campus, in a way that isolates you from the surrounding areas. Coming to U of I, you researched the campus and learned what it has to offer, but limiting yourself from exploring the surrounding cities means you’ll be missing out on culture and community you may have never known of otherwise.

Expand your horizons, because you aren’t living between these cities for forever. You may as well get to know what they have to offer, which will make your college experience more personable while you’re still around.

Jess is a junior in Media.
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