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nuEra 5 Cannabis Culture 5 “Champaign’s Street Fest takes over Campustown” – The Daily Illini

“Champaign’s Street Fest takes over Campustown” – The Daily Illini

by | Sep 10, 2023

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The Daily Illini – Photograph by Candice Zhou

“Street Fest took over Sixth Street on Saturday, bringing live music, street performances and local vendors.

On Sixth Street from Green to East Healey streets, the festival went from 1-7 p.m. From beginning to end, an impressive lineup of artists performed on a stage near Healey Street.

Emily How, complimented only by her guitar, performed a mellow set as the festival began.

Josh Spinner took the stage next at 2 p.m., performing an upbeat indie and funky set.

Soon after, at 3 p.m., Haki N’ Dem provided Street Fest with a passionate R&B and soul set. Children danced in the streets and the band interacted with the crowd.

UNCHAiNED, a band blending the genres of funk, ska and reggae with metal and punk, took the stage at 4:30 p.m. Uniquely, the band had two lead singers.

Trouble Chasin’ finished the evening of live music with a hip-hop performance at 6 p.m.

In years prior, Champaign’s street fest took place in downtown Champaign under the Champaign Park District.

Xander Hazel, executive director of the champaign center partnership, has now taken over management of the event.

“We’re a small business association that serves Champaign’s downtown, midtown and campustown,” Hazel said about Champaign Center Partnership.

Champaign Center Partnership has expanded the festival from purely a music event to including vendors and dance performers, along with the “Chowdown in Campustown” event in which local businesses provide five dollar food deals for festival goers.

The organization held a street fest in downtown Champaign over the summer. However, it chose to hold a second event to connect students with the community after they returned to campus.

“We thought this would be a great opportunity to have an event in campustown when students are back, so that attendees can build a relationship with the community and the businesses that are here,” Hazel said.

On the Green Street side of Street Fest, people could watch a variety of street acts.

The CU Circus Collective performed various circus acts at 1 p.m., transitioning to fire dances at 2 p.m. At 4 p.m., two pole dancers performed.

More dancers joined the floor at 5:15 p.m., with K-Project performing. Fifteen minutes later, Floor Lovers freestyle dance crew performed to enthusiastic cheers from the crowd.

Vendors at Street Fest included Axe Bar, an axe throwing venue; nuEra cannabis, a marijuana dispensary; and UPD, whose tent featuring an emotional support dog named Kirby.

Many local shops boasting homemade products were also present, including Pastel Moonrise, selling artsy mugs and mini mushrooms, and Fire Doll Studio, selling unique candles. The Wright Soapery also appeared at Street Fest, selling creative and artful soaps.

The Cretor Popcorn Wagon, made an appearance at the event, bringing a rich history of serving popcorn to the Champaign County community.

Will Best, manager for the Champaign County History Museum, helped operate the wagon, parts of which date back to the early 1910s.

Best said the wagon is still in original condition, and has been up and running again since the mid-2000s.

“This wagon used to be parked in downtown Champaign all the time during the weekend,” Best said. “A lot of people will remember coming and getting popcorn as kids with their parents.”

Best said the wagon makes frequent appearances at local festivals and antique car shows. Their partnership with Champaign Center Partnership brought them to the Campustown street festival.

“We just like to partner with a lot of local organizations so that we can bring our historic popcorn wagon to their events,” Best said. “You know, teach people a little about our history.”

The wagon sold popcorn for $2 a bag in front of the festival’s main stage.

“It’s a fundraising opportunity for the museum,” Best said. “It’s a chance for people to be able to experience history that’s been a part of the county for almost 100 years now.”

Article by Sarah Bond and Maaike Niekerk • SEPTEMBER 10, 2023