Downtown Get Down creating a community gathering place

Be seen at the scene: Downtown Get Down creating a community gathering place

Downtown Get Down creating a community gathering place

A new series of monthly summer events is bringing people to downtown Urbana.

Story: Christine Walsh

Photos: Christine Walsh

A new series of monthly summer events is bringing people to downtown Urbana.

The Downtown Get Down is on the fourth Saturday of the month through August with festivities on Main and Race streets, as well as specials and live music at downtown businesses. The Downtown Get Down features live concerts, DJs, live arts demos and performances.

Urbana Arts and Culture Coordinator Rachel Storm said organizers wanted to expand on the momentum of Imbibe Urbana’s popular Urbana First Fridays, an event series featuring live local culture. “We hope to continue this next year,” Storm said.

When the idea was first discussed, Storm said, having people walk around was considered before it was decided to have it centrally located. “We wanted the community to get out and gather and meet their neighbors, to get to know each other,” she said. “That was an important aspect of what we were doing. We want them to be out and celebrating Urbana’s arts and culture scene.”

The Urbana Park District, which is also loaning its stage, is providing free drop-off childcare for youth 5 and older in a kids zone filled with inflatables, bubbles and games. “We really wanted it to be family friendly,” Storm said.

An artist’s street market is sponsored by 40 North 88 West, which “does a tremendous job of advocating for the arts,” Storm said.

The Urbana Free Library is sponsoring a teen maker lab, which is based on its Teen Open Lab that lets teens enjoy 3D printing, music making, reading, drawing, crafting, film-making, gaming or just hanging out on most Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. “It has been really robust in terms of what it’s giving back to teens,” Storm said.

Storm said feedback has been positive. “We had a wonderful turnout,” she said of the May debut.

August’s event will coincide with the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival. The layout will remain the same at each “so that the map doesn’t change too much,” Storm said. “It will be growing in terms of vendors.”

People can stay up to date on the stage lineup, special offers and more at the website or on the Facebook page; there’s a list of contacts for those who want to get involved. At May’s event, for example, various businesses hosted a heavy metal band, country music, dualing DJs, a jazz quarter, and a live show, a hobby shop had a virtual reality experience, and a women’s clothing store had a sip and shop event.

“We’re hoping it’ll continue to grow,” Storm said.