Summer food festival season is upon us, people. There are a bunch of events this month, and this month’s column is dedicated to the treats you’ll find at these festivals. The food festival in C-U is synonymous with rain, and if you look back on our coverage of these events from years past, you’ll see the evidence. If you’re drowned out at some event, it seems only right to drown your sorrows with something delicious. It helps heal the soul and give the middle finger to Mother Nature (and your waistline). Although one of the event’s listed below isn’t in Champaign or Urbana, it’s close enough to consider a local-ish event.  So go forth, bring cash for your festival food tickets, and grab your umbrella and your sunscreen. Eat. Drink. Be festive.


Fancy Soda | Homer Soda Festival

The fourth annual Homer Soda Festival is Saturday, June 4th in Homer. It’s just a short drive from here, and for just $15, you can drink all the soda shots your delicate heart can handle. Seriously, be careful, especially if you have a heart condition. The wide variety of soda flavors is truly astonishing. I’m partial to chocolate sodas, though none will ever be as good as Polar’s Diet Double Fudge. (Why Polar doesn’t distribute to the Midwest is unknown to me, but is truly a great loss for humanity. All you La Criox drinkers don’t even know.) Nevertheless, there are some tasty and delicious sodas out there for you to try. Since I’m an East Coast gal, I’m partial to Avery’s Totally Gross Sodas, since they’re super fun and gross and delightful to both kids and adults.

The Homer Soda Festival is 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, June 4th, in Downtown Homer. For more info, visit the event’s website.

Crowridge Farm Ice Cream | Homer Soda Festival

This is the best ice cream I’ve had in the Midwest.

I’m not kidding.

This ice cream truck hails from Elliot, Illinois, and only makes a few appearances in the greater C-U area each year. You can, however, order ice cream and it’ll be delivered to C-U (pints $4.50; quarts $7.50), just send a message to the Facebook page. The truck will be at the Homer Soda Festival, and it’s totally worth the drive, even if you don’t like/care about soda. In years past there have been soda-inspired flavors like root beer float, which was a fun take on the Soda Festival theme. You’re pretty well set with any of your choices, though, and if you’re feeling spunky, check out the superman rainbow ice cream. It’ll turn your tongue blue!

The Homer Soda Festival is 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, June 4th, in Downtown Homer. For more info, visit the event’s website.

Crawfish | Crane Alley’s Crawfish Boil

I think that crawfish are an acquired taste, and if you’ve acquired it, here’s your chance to chow down on some crayfish/crawdads/mudbugs. Tickets for Crane Alley’s 8th Annual Crawfish Boil are $20 and available now at Crane Alley. Get them in advance. Then, arrive at the restaurant promptly at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 12th. The event is all-you-can-eat, so get your money’s worth. There will also be a beer truck on hand serving six different Stone Brewing beers for washing down your eats. 

Crane Alley’s 8th Annual Crawfish Boil is at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 12th. Get your tickets in advance at Crane Alley (115 W Main Street, Urbana).

Photo by Sam Logan.

Wine | Uncork Urbana Wine Festival

Uncork Urbana is in its third year now, and with each year the interest grows. Last year’s event was packed, and despite a very heavy downpour, people came out in droves to drink some vino. The June 18th event exclusively features Illinois wine producers, and is an excellent opportunity to try a bunch of different wines and figure out what you like and don’t like. You can also buy bottles to take home. The wine slushie was particularly popular last year; I recommend having at least one glass. Twenty bucks at the gate gets you a souvenir glass and five tasting tickets. Additional tickets are $1 each, and tastings range in ticket price. You can buy your ticket online and save $5 here.

The third annual Uncork Urbana Wine Festival is from 1 to 9 p.m., Saturday, June 18th in Downtown Urbana. Tickets can be purchased in advance here, and are also available at the date.

Funnel Cake | Blues, Brews, BBQ

Yes, I know the funnel cake isn’t a local delicacy. But technically it’s made locally, right? It’s not as if funnel cakes rain from the sky in C-U, so here’s an opportunity to indulge yourself and inner kid. Come on, look at that thing: It’s amazing. And super delicious. And, quite frankly, the BBQ is so hit or miss mostly miss at this event that you’ll at least want to eat something you enjoyed. 

BBBBQ is Friday, June 24th and Saturday, June 25th in Downtown Champaign; admission is free. Tickets are required for food.

Photos by Jessica Hammie, except for Crane Alley photo by Sam Logan.