Taste: A tested, tried, true festival

CHAMPAIGN — Boat Drunks, BritBeat and Brat Pack are among the bands that will perform at the 42nd annual Taste of Champaign-Urbana this weekend at West Side Park.

One of the area's most popular festivals, the Taste opened Friday and will resume from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Besides live music and other entertainment, the Taste offers tastes of food and drinks from local restaurants. Another big draw: the regional arts and crafts vendors who will ply and demonstrate making their handmade goods.

As at prior festivals, visitors buy tickets, sold in sheets of four for $5, to pay for food and drinks and some of the activities. The ticket sales end 30 minutes before the event closes each day.

And once again, leave your pets at home: Dogs and other domestic animals are not allowed at the festival.

Street parking will be available throughout downtown Champaign, including at the parking garage at Hill and Neil streets. Handicapped-accessible parking will be at Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal Church, 100 N. Park St. (at the corner of Park and State streets).

State and Elm streets will be closed for the event.

The Champaign Park District will reward folks who bicycle to the festival with a coupon for a free beverage at one of the Pepsi tents. Bicyclists may park their two-wheelers at a bike corral in the northwest corner of the park.

The Taste of Champaign-Urbana entertainment schedule follows:

American Family Insurance Entertainment Tent

Saturday

11 a.m. to noon, The Mourning After, indie band.

1 to 2:30 p.m., Blue Bus, classic rock-blues.

3:30 to 5 p.m., The Decadents, hard rock.

6 to 7:30 p.m., The Boat Drunks, a Jimmy Buffett tribute band.

8:30 to 10 p.m., BritBeat, a Beatles tribute band.

Sunday

11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Calle Sur, Latin American music.

1:30 to 3 p.m., Groove Avenue, dance music, with covers of artists performing from the '50s through today.

4 to 6 p.m., The Brat Pack, an '80s cover band.

Family Stage

Saturday

11:45 a.m. to noon, Champaign Park District Youth Theatre preview of "The Wizard of Oz!"

12:30 to 1 p.m. Class Act, improvisation for kids and adults.

2 to 2:30 p.m., Twysters Balloons, Robin Brundlemakes fun and wacky balloon creations.

5 to 5:30 p.m., Jason Kollum, a professional juggler, stilt-walker and entertainer from Chicago.

6 to 6:30 p.m., Classy Combinations, featuring members of the Champaign Park District's belly dance class.

Sunday

11:15 to 11:30 a.m., Park District Summer Youth Theatre preview of "The Wizard of Oz!"

Noon to 12:30 p.m., Twysters Balloons.

1 to 1:30 p.m., Classy Combinations belly dance.

2 to 2:30 p.m., Zumba, Champaign Park District fitness/dance class.

3 to 3:30 p.m., Class Act, improv.

4 to 5 p.m., Bow-Dacious String Band, a group of string students who perform traditional, folk, and popular music from around the world.

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