Smile Politely

Ask Politely #20

With the temperatures soaring into the 90s and summer in full swing, the Champaign-Urbana community starts itching to get outside and take in the season. One of the newer traditions in town is the Champaign Park District-sponsored downtown street fests that occur three times per year.

This Saturday is the first of these, featuring two artists, Freeze Dried — a band that claims rock, polka and cajun as its influences, and, Od Tapo Imi — a fusion band mixing island sounds, steel drums and non-traditional percussion.

The “festival” takes place on the corner of Walnut and University avenues, whereas the others are on Main and Chestnut and Neil and Main streets, July 12 and Aug. 9, respectively. Alcoholic beverages are allowed on the street within the parameters of the designated area, although it’s been suspected that Champaign’s finest turn a blind eye to anyone walking out of the zone as well.

While these events are mainly received well by citizens, there have been some vocal outcries regarding the programming choices and locations of the stages. Until this year, no original music had been booked to perform on any of these festivals, and arguments have been made that stage locations have seemed to favor particular bars, giving them an advantage over other drinking establishments in town, at least in terms of alcohol sales that evening.

So, what do you think? Are the street festivals a great thing for Downtown Champaign and all of the C-U area? Or do they still need some modification in order to properly engage the entire community and all of the businesses in the neighborhood?

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