Despite less than favorable weather conditions this past weekend in Urbana, the Rhythm and Foods Festival at the Champaign County Fairgrounds and the Military Appreciation Day event at Grimes Field were deemed successes by their respective organizers.
“The event went rather well considering the weather,” said David Bacher, who organized the inaugural Rhythm and Foods Festival held Friday and Saturday, June 12 and 13. “Attendance really swelled after the rain storm on Saturday. That evening there was a very good crowd.
“Our conservative estimate is that we had about 4,000 people come through the gate,” he added. “This was a little lower than we had hoped, but for a first-year event and with the weather, we feel that this was respectable.”
The two-day festival featured seven live bands, over 50 food vendors and around 15 merchandise vendors.
As of now, the plan is for the Rhythm and Foods Festival to return in 2016.
“The feedback from the community was overwhelming and very supportive … so I think we will do it again next year,” Bacher said. “It is already tentatively scheduled for the second weekend in June, and we have already had quite a few of the vendors say they want to come back.”
Bacher is looking at ways to improve the festival next year based on what worked and didn’t work the first time around.
“Robert Rothschild Farm is already talking about expanding the food competition next year to three categories, and we will also expand the craft beer selection as this area proved to be quite popular,” he said. “We are also considering a wine area as well as a margarita station.”
Honoring Vietnam War veterans
On Saturday, eventgoers packed Grimes Field for Military Appreciation Day, an event held to honor the 50th anniversary of ground troops arriving in Vietnam.
Co-sponsored by DAV Chapter 31 and VFW Post 5451, the daylong event, held in conjunction with the Champaign County Pilots Association’s annual Pancake Breakfast, featured over two dozen fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters on display, many from the Vietnam era.
“Attendance was excellent,” said Grimes Field Manager Lou Driever. “It’s difficult to provide an exact estimate of total attendance since there were three different gates, veterans had free admission, and we had folks coming in by both air and ground, but I believe our total attendance was in the neighborhood of 5,000 people.
“Our volunteers were key to the success of this event. They deserve sincere respect and recognition for their work,” he added.
Driever said the final costs have yet to be confirmed, but once all bills are paid, the remaining proceeds will be placed in a fund dedicated to erecting a Vietnam War memorial in Urbana.
“We appreciate the service of our veterans and are grateful for having had the opportunity to demonstrate our respect to them,” he said.