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Celebration Time

Annual three-day festival features music, art and food

No matter whether it rains or shines, students and community members will gather to enjoy art, music and a lot of food at the annual Celebration: A Festival of the Arts.

The three-day festival will run from Friday, April 19, through Sunday, April 21, with almost 40 art vendors and entertainers ranging from rock to classical performers, said Dan Crews, director of patron services at Doudna Fine Arts Center.

The celebration festival was created by a former dean in the College of Arts and Humanities in 1976 as an attempt to create a chautauqua, a show that brings entertainment to rural areas. Today, the festival is still focused on celebrating the arts and the artistic process with students and community members, Crews said.

“It is the celebration of the role the arts play in our lives,” he said.

The wide range of artwork for sale will include photography, jewelry, pottery, metals, woodworking and much more. This year's art fair is dedicated in memory of Doug Lawhead, a journalism faculty member and EIU alumnus who passed away in August.

The food selection includes Asian, Mexican, barbeque and standard festival fare, such as corn dogs, curly fries and funnel cakes. One vendor, called the Pretzel Wagon, will even offer pretzels wrapped around meat. Other munchies for sale include strawberry and lemon shake-ups, fudge, cupcakes and some of the best taffy you will ever get in your entire life, Crews said.

Musical performers will play a variety of genres, including jazz, reggae, rock and country, Crews said.

“We don’t want to pigeon-hole ourselves to one kind of genre,” Crews said. “We try to feature a lot to give everyone a taste.”

The Eastern Symphony Orchestra will perform "Carmina Burana," a huge classical piece featuring 150 to 175 singers, with the EIU Choral Ensembles, Charleston High School Advanced Chorus and the Charleston Middle School Chorus as a fundraiser for the ESO and EIU Choral Ensembles.

Other bands performing include The Lemon Brothers Band, an Indiana rock band in which all members are in sixth and seventh grades. The band members, who have been performing since they were 4 years old, play classic rock cover songs. The young musicians promote literacy and music education, Crews said.

“They are not even in junior high yet and they are playing rock n’ roll,” Crews said.

Another event will be the “Festival of Colors,” which will have participants splashing water and colorful Gulal powder on each other. This technicolored celebration -- sponsored by the Office of Study Abroad as part of Asian Heritage Month -- is based on a traditional Hindu celebration called Holi.

Crews said the festival will again take place on Seventh Street between the Doudna Fine Arts Center and Buzzard Hall. The festival was moved to this location last year because it was more easily accessed by vehicles, which made it easier for vendors to set up. It also has good drainage to help prevent anyone from having to tromp through the mud or grass if it rains, Crews said.

It often rains during Celebration weekend, but Crews said the festival gives the community an opportunity to leave their homes and enjoy the arts during the spring -- rain or shine.

“We don’t do for ourselves, we do it for the students and the community,” he said. “I tell people it is a great opportunity to get out no matter what the weather is like, whether it is bad or real nice.”

Crews said he has been involved with Celebration since 1989, and has been planning the festival since 1993.

“It is always a lot of fun and work, but it is kind of like throwing a party for 8,000 people,” Crews said.

For a full schedule of events, vendor list and more, please see the Celebration website.

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