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Sugar Creek Arts Festival
Street scene Saturday, July 10, 2010, at the Sugar Creek Arts Festival in uptown Normal. (Pantagraph/CARLOS T. MIRANDA)

NORMAL -- For the past 27 years, uptown Normal has welcomed the Sugar Creek Arts Festival to its streets, and in the process, it has become a summer tradition in Central Illinois.

A juried show of fine art and fine crafts created by exhibitors from across the nation, the annual festival captivates the most creative minds for two days during the second weekend each July. This year, the festival will be July 9-10, starting at 10 a.m. both days.

Sugar Creek was founded in 1983 by two local art enthusiasts. That first year, only 19 artists were in attendance. This year, Sugar Creek will feature about 130 artists showcasing original artwork in a variety of disciplines.

Applications to exhibit at the festival have streamed in from all across the nation, including Texas, Florida, and Oklahoma, but this is always a great opportunity to see local and Illinois artists. For the 2011 show, we have received 139 applications from Illinois-based artists -- out of 204 total applications.

In addition to the art and crafts, children's activities, live music, and food vendors make this an event for everyone. The WGLT music stage will feature some of the best local blues bands around and, of course, lemon shakeups will be readily available to help keep you cool.

Event parking in uptown Normal is both cheap and easy. The parking deck located on College Avenue will be free all weekend during the festival, and the Marriott Hotel parking deck, located on Fell Avenue, is just $1 per hour.

The Sugar Creek Arts Festival is sponsored by the McLean County Arts Center, the town of Normal, the Uptown Normal Business Association, and WGLT radio.

For more information on the festival, visit the McLean County Arts Center website at www.mcac.org or the uptown site at www.uptownnormal.com.

Schrader is marketing manager for uptown Normal.

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