Virtual 2020 Sweetcorn Festival August 22, 2020

This year’s forty-fifth Sweetcorn Festival and the regular One Community Together (OCT) programming that the Sousa Archives typically puts on each August was cancelled on May 21 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.  The decision to cancel this year’s on-site festival was the right one to make.  However, the recent social unrest rocking the country and our community convinced the Center’s director that we needed to find a way to produce a virtual Sweetcorn Festival this year.

Working with Darius White, Executive Director of the Urbana Business Association, and undeterred by reasoned voices to dissuade us from this mad-capped idea since neither of us had done anything like this before, we plunged into the effort in early June.  We quickly realized that live virtual performances by many of our local bands were impractical to pull off well, so we decided to use recordings and photographs taken from previous years’ OCT performances for this year’s virtual music programming.

Previous years’ One Community Together programming also included many hands-on activities for children provided by members of the Champaign County Museums Network.  Working with many of  my museum colleagues over the last two weeks, we have created a variety of fun virtual activities for children.  These will include such virtual activities as “Silly-Dilly Inventions,”  “Story Time for All Ages with Miss Kim,” “Baseball Rockets and Gravity Wells,” “Creature Teachers – From the Parks to Your Backyard,” and much more.  In addition, we will have a very special cooking demonstration provided by Urbana’s wonderful Baldorattas.

Our virtual OCT programming will conclude with a very special retrospective finale highlighting images of past OCT performances by our communities’ wonderful Urbana, Central, and Centennial High School Marching Bands that will be accompanied by a recorded performance by the U.S. Army “Pershing Own” Band of America the Beautiful, an arrangement that originally was played by the joined ensembles in 2013.  Following this segment we will conclude this year’s programming with a virtual Downtown Get Down session with DJ Silkee.

This year’s programming is supported by the Urbana Business Association, Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, Homer Lake Forest Preserve, Anita Purves Nature Center, Parkland College Staerkel Planetarium, Museum of the Grand Prairie, and the University’s Pollinatarium,  Spurlock Museum and Distributed Museum.

For further information about this year’s virtual Sweetcorn Festival and its One Community Together programming call the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music at 217-333-4577.  For a complete schedule of virtual performances and children’s activities, visit Events.

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