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Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012 06:11 am

Festival fun

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Brooke Thomas performs with several other artists Sunday at the Art

This first weekend of August 2012 qualifies as one of those wonderful and infrequent times where there are just too many good things to do.

The Decatur Celebration, now celebrating its 26th year of providing one of the largest and most interesting family street festivals in America, keeps rolling along. With good entertainment at varying levels from just-emerging artists to over-the-hill-and-back entertainers, fine fair-type foods in hundreds of varieties, creative crafters and artists in attendance, plenty of carnival rides, plus a Kid’s Block area that doesn’t cost a family the family fortune, the real secret to the success of the Celebration is the diversity of attractions along with the volunteer efforts of the community. Decatur is and should be proud of hosting an event of this caliber and size with a continuing commitment from the city administration and the people of Decatur.

Headliners include Billy Ocean, Mitch Ryder with our pal Michael “Supe” Granda of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, The Trammps featuring Earl Young (remember Disco Inferno?), Christian groups Big Daddy Weave and LeCrae, plus a couple of up-and-coming modern country acts and a few more gone-but-not-forgotten bands such as Spin Doctors and Color Me Badd. As always the good folks in Decatur support area bands as well, with this year’s lineup including The Emerald Underground, The Hit Men and a Dame, The Sugar Prophets, Kilborn Alley, Imagine That and Rosetta Stone. All in all it’s quite a celebration and one that central Illinois folks should be very happy to have around.

In downtown Springfield on Saturday, Aug. 4, the Downhome Music, Beer & Arts Festival hosts a second annual showing, featuring, you guessed it – music, beer and arts. Set on the corner of Seventh and Washington streets, conveniently located between host bars the Brewhaus and Celtic Mist Pub, organizers have amped up the fest for the sophomore excursion. Starting at 2 p.m. and now going until midnight, the event features 11 local bands doing predominantly original music, with two stages for constant entertainment, more than 50 American craft beers, 10 local beer distributors including Springfield-based brewers Rolling Meadows and Obed & Isaacs, three area food vendors, a kid’s place from 2 to 7 and local art on display from The Pharmacy arts collective and Michael Mayosky.

Along with featuring local groups, all the ticket sales ($5 per person) are split equally between the performing groups, a unique concept in area concert events. This year headliners NIL8 and the Station come out to play one of the few shows each long-running, all-original band does annually, giving a nice touch to a local, creative music show. Most of the performing bands have merch for sale and continue to pursue music as a major way of making a living and definitely as an absolute way to live. Here’s to Downhome the third.

On Sunday, Aug. 5, 3 to 10 p.m. Crows Mill Pub, with help from various organizers including Karin Fein and Mike Burnett, presents an Arts and Music Festival to benefit the Special Olympics of our area. All proceeds of the $5 cover go to supporting Sangamon Area 17 of the Special Olympics and the entrance fee includes live music from several artists including Micah Walk, Dave Littrell, Josie Lowder, Debbie Ross, James Armstrong, Brooke Thomas, Velveeta Velour and several others. There’ll be free fun goodies for the kids, free food donated by Humphrey’s Market, art for sale and displayed by several artists often seen during Third Thursday art events including Tim Loafman, Felicia Olin and Spencer Stokes, as well as performance art happenings, plus a genuine knowing that your money is going to a good cause.

Have fun fitting everything in this weekend.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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