Music performances, water games highlight Sweetcorn festival

In a city surrounded by corn, it’s no wonder that the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival’s popularity continues to grow year after year. Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the festival returns this year with anticipation of a crowd of over 65,000 people.

Festivities will be taking place on Main Street between Race and Vine in downtown Urbana from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on August 27 and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on August 28.

And thanks to all the planning and designing of the festival done by the Urbana Business Association, the public will be able to enjoy the event’s numerous and greener highlights which include new water activities, musical performances, environmental projects, as well as the event’s main attraction: scrumptious sweetcorn.

With free activities offered to all, the festival hopes to provide entertainment to people of all ages.

For kids, there will be inflatable rides, pony rides, a puppet show and much more, said the planner of the festival, Katie Hansen, in an e-mail interview.

For adults and college students, there will be tons of food, corn and beer to keep them occupied as well as diverse food venders offering a variety of cuisine.

“I really enjoy going to the sweetcorn festival because it gives Urbana a lot of personality,” said Justin Ang, a senior in LAS. “The event is really fun for everyone. Even my parents come all the way down from Chicago just to go.”

Provided music will include area bands such as Brat Pack, Tons O’ Fun Band, Boat Drunks and Feudin’ Hillbillies on Friday and the CUperStars, Tree Thump, Delta Kings and Soul Asylum as the headliner on Saturday. Local Urbana, Centennial and Central High School Bands will also offer entertainment, led by Dr. Robert Rumbelow, University of Illinois Director of Bands.

“Music students are always enthusiastic to perform,” said Rumbelow, “that’s why we practice and work hard learning to play. All performances, both large and small, are significant to music students.”

New activities also accompany the traditional lineup of the festival. “Seeing as how hot this summer has gone, we decided to add some water fun for the festival,” Hansen said. This includes a water wars game where people can sling water balloons at each other.

According to the event’s website, the Solo Cup Company provided help in reducing the environmental impact of the festival. Green efforts include recycling for cups and other materials, incentives for bicyclists and an all-new corn composting program.

Last year, the public helped recycle 16 cubic yards of plastic cups at the festival, according to the festival’s website. This year, there will be six designated booths stationed around the festival encouraging patrons to recycle their items to help reach the UBA’s goal of recycling even more than last year. There will also be a full block called Green Alley that will be devoted to earth-friendly outreaches.

A lot of time goes into planning this extraordinary event.

“We have a great committee filled with people from all over this community that strive to make this festival what it has become. I have to give a huge thanks to all of them,” Hansen said.