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.

Fourth of July parade attendees will be looking up

This year's Champaign County Freedom Celebration Parade will feature several large, inflated newcomers: a 10-foot birthday cake balloon, a 20-foot puppy balloon and a 30-foot Kermit the Frog.

You won't be able to miss these balloons, plus another balloon version of The News-Gazette, as they travel the parade route July 4.

Walldogs converge on Arcola

ARCOLA — Walldog FranCisco Vargas, a professional sign painter from Fresno, Calif., has learned to expect the unexpected at Walldog meets.

That's why he arrived a day early for the Walldogs Pop The Top meet in Arcola.

Public art theft is 'lesson learned'

CHAMPAIGN — Of the 10 sculptures the Public Art League hopes to install soon in Champaign and Urbana, one likely will go in a secure public indoor space.

That's because the Art League, a group of private citizens who formed just two years ago, learned a lesson when someone ripped apart and sold as scrap one of the sculptures it had placed in downtown Champaign last year.

Volition parent reports loss despite downsizing

CHAMPAIGN — Volition's parent company, THQ Inc., reduced the number of its video-game development studios from 11 to five and eliminated 370 jobs in a restructuring earlier this year, the company said in its annual report this week.

That reduced THQ's workforce, as of March 31, to 1,088 employees, with at least 402 of those employed outside the United States, the report said.

Green Street to be closed from Sixth to Wright on Saturday for fest

CHAMPAIGN — City officials will close a portion of Green Street in Campustown nearly all day on Saturday for the Center City Summer Stage festival.

Three Danville natives in town to sing

DANVILLE — First it was Bryan Wilson singing "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" with the Mississippi Children's Choir.

Then it was Jared Yates making it to Hollywood as one of the "American Idol" finalists.

And then, it was Christian Cunningham, winning the teen version of "The Voice" on NBC's "Today" show last month.

Studio Visit: Dan Pierson

Studio Visit appears first in print, in Sunday editions of The News-Gazette. Here, Melissa Merli visits with pianist Dan Pierson. 

Q: I heard you've finished your bachelor's degree in piano performance and are moving to Chicago. What will you do up there?

Hot Rod tour: 'Around every corner, it's something different'

CHAMPAIGN — A little rain Monday didn't quell the party-like atmosphere that rolled into town with the Hot Rod Power Tour.

The tour, which stopped at the University of Illinois Assembly Hall on Monday afternoon, brought cars of all makes and models and their owners from all over the United States to Champaign for a day and a night.

Studio Visit: Larry Gray

Studio Visit appears first in print, in Sunday editions of The News-Gazette. Here, Melissa Merli visits with bassist Larry Gray. In the June 3 newspaper, we'll have a visit with pianist Dan Pierson.

Q: Are you still the first-call studio musician in Chicago for the double bass?

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