Without question, the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival is a McMillan family favorite.
These are just a few of the features that set it apart from other summer festivals: the streets of downtown Urbana are blocked off for the event (there’s something electrifying about literally partying in the street); its end-of-August timing means that the sun shining on your shoulders is usually of the friendly, not blistering, variety; adults are trusted to enjoy the festivities with an adult beverage in hand; and, of course, its main focus is a crop near and dear to the hearts of Illinoisans. Have you ever tried living some place where you can’t watch corn grow? It’s hard, man.
If you’re planning on taking your family to the festival this year, here’s what you need to know:
Food/beverage: Some local restaurants set up booths at the festival, as do vendors from farther away (think fair food). Tickets good for everything from food and drink–beer included–to inflatable attractions for kids are sold for $1 per ticket. Ticket prices vary widely per item.
Though refreshments always seem to be a bit pricey at events such as this, the food is of the worth-every-calorie type. Also, the Sweetcorn Festival offers its feature dish for only one ticket an ear, and Illinois American Water Co. will have a truck dispensing cold water for free.
Activities: New this year are activity wristbands, which will cost $20 for unlimited turns on a dozen different inflatables, and one time each through laser tag, jousting, the rock wall, and the mechanical bull.
A petting zoo featuring kangaroos, a camel, and assorted barnyard critters will be set up for the duration of the event as well. Petting costs one ticket, and feeding the animals costs an additional ticket.
A touch-a-truck event will be held on Race St. on Friday the 24th from 6-8 p.m., and vintage service vehicles (such as a bus and a working popcorn truck) will be on display at the Motor Muster Car Show on Saturday.
Additional free family activites–including concerts–will take place at different times throughout the event.
Getting around. Parking is available for free in the Lincoln Square Mall parking lot, and for free on Saturday (a fee applies on Friday) in the downtown Urbana parking garage. Street parking–wherever you can find it–is also free.
New this year will be a tent for breastfeeding mothers. In an effort to make moms and babies more comfortable, it will feature chairs and fans so that nursing can take place in a cool, comfortable environment.
What’s your favorite way to do the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival? Tell us in the comments.
Rachael McMillan teaches sixth- and seventh-grade history at Campus Middle School for girls. She also tutors at The Reading Group and serves as the education coordinator for Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade retailer in downtown Champaign. She is totally in love with her Chambana life, which she shares with husband Scott, second grader Jack, first grader Kate, and a soon-to-be-born baby boy her kids have named Bob.