Smile Politely

History, family, and culture at Champaign-Urbana Days

Did you know Champaign-Urbana Days doesn’t have an original date? The Champaign Park District has been hosting the C-U Days event for 44 years…or so it seems. No one really knows the actual year it started. It began sometime in the 70s at the Lake of the Woods in Mahomet. Hosted by the men of Iota Phi Theta, this was just a small family get-to-together for a day. As the years went on, this little gathering started growing, from a one-day event to a two-day event. It was moved to Champaign-Urbana and the men of Iota Phi Theta enlisted the help of the Champaign Park District to maintain it. Now it’s two days at Douglass Park, Friday and Saturday– with lots of events, activities, and food. This year’s C-U Days is Friday, August 11, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. and Saturday, August 12, 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. 

C-U Days is a community event with a family reunion vibe. I spoke with Tiffany White, Douglass Park manager and C-U Day Coordinator, about what this event means to the community and families. Ms. White highlights that C-U Days is a family-oriented event and says, “This is the time a lot of families come back to Champaign-Urbana so that they can fellowship with one another.” And what better a place to do this than an event with free live music, food trucks, and activities for the kids. C-U Days offers a lot for children to enjoy, such as inflatables, face painting, and a caricature artist. This also marks the time for back-to-school shopping, which another great reason to attend. “To be an information vendor there’s no fee; however, you have to bring school supplies to donate to anyone in the community. Unit 4 schools does a backpack giveaway and some school supplies with the backpack. We also have people in the neighborhood that come out and give out school supplies. So if you are looking for school supplies, Saturday, August 12th C-U Days is the place for you!” White says.

For you gospel fans, come out Friday night for the C-U Days Gospel Fest, 6-8 p.m. Sponsored and hosted by WBCP radio’s very own Lady Lynn and Will Colquitt, it features local talents as well as singers and performers from St. Louis, Chicago, and other parts of the Midwest. 

Sports fans will enjoy the All-Star Basketball Tournament, which is being held on Saturday at 10 a.m. for ages 14 to 17, and then at 2 p.m. for ages 18 and older. If sports are not your thing, check out the C-U Days Fashion and Talent Show from 3-5 p.m., which is one of Tiffany White’s favorite events. It’s hosted by Shawanna Lee and Latoya Phillips, who have been involved with this program for 25 years or more. “Our mothers worked together jointly on the program and then we took it over.” says Shawanna Lee. Her mother Linda Turnbull along with Joyce Phillips, Latoya Phillip’s mother, founded C-U Fashion and Talent. “Joyce Phillips was an intricate part of the fashion show until she passed. We continue to run the program due to our love and commitment to the community as well as the legacy that our families started.” For the older crowd, 50 and older, there’s a free Seniors Luncheon and Bingo also on Saturday. Free lunch is provided as well as the chance to receive give-a-ways and prizes, such as household items, gift cards, and more.

C-U Days is a free event, open to everyone, and with all these events and activities, it’s hard to keep the park clean. “Volunteers are always needed, we have thousands of people in the park, and we need help keeping it clean” White says. If you would like to volunteer, contact the Douglass Community Center at 217-398-2573 or visit the C-U Days website.

Don’t miss out on this exciting event, fun and free for all!

Champaign-Urbana Days
Friday, August 11, 2017 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 12, 2017 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Douglass Park
512 E Grove St, Champaign, IL 61820

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