Decatur Celebration: Should it Continue?

If you’re a longtime Decaturite I’m sure you know the ongoing woes of the Decatur Celebration. For several years it has lost money. How much? We don’t know. To say there’s been a lack of transparency to the public, or even to its financial donors, would be an understatement. But that’s another story. My main question is should it continue?

I don’t know if the Celebration will continue as I write this. I don’t know how dire the financial situation is or how far along the planning of the 2019 event is at this point.

Maybe the more important question is whether it should continue. For sentimental reasons, I’d love to see it continue for years to come. My family has always had good experiences there enjoying the food, music, and bumping into old friends that we pretty much only see at the Celebration.

But something else that I’m seeing as a possible game changer for the Celebration is the new amphitheatre in Nelson Park. I would assume it is easier to book musical acts there than at the 3-day Celebration.

For one, there’s more dates to choose from which will accommodate more touring schedules of more musical acts. If I was a musician, (you better thank God that I’m not because I suck) I’d rather perform at the new venue where there’s a permanent stage, lightning, and presumably other conveniences.

Plus, it’s by the lake. It’s a nice setting! And maybe it won’t be so hot as downtown. August in Illinois can be miserable.

It’s going to get tougher to book acts, I think. I’m not an expert in this of course but common sense kinda makes me believe that more acts would prefer playing at the amphitheatre, in a lovely looking park, by a lake.

As someone who enjoys attending concerts, I’d prefer the amphitheatre because I might actually be able to see the acts on the stage.

Maybe we should concentrate on a summer festival near the lake instead of downtown. People would pay to see the musical acts but the rest would be free to attend.

Still, there’s something about downtown that I would miss greatly.

Something that’s always bothered me about the Decatur Celebration is that when I’m downtown during the Celebration it doesn’t feel like Decatur. I might as well be in any ole downtown at any ole festival. It just doesn’t feel like the city I know and love.

Possibly, if the focus was on local talent, local food, and local artists it would feel like Decatur. Honestly, a lot of the vendors are the same ones you find at the State Fair just a week after the Celebration, or at many of the other smaller festivals around Central Illinois throughout the summer and fall.

The craft booths are really sparse compared to years past with items that are rarely handmade. Most of it is stuff from China that’s sold here, there, and everywhere.

Maybe the biggest problem of the Decatur Celebration is that the organizers forgot that it was about celebrating Decatur!

I’d enjoy going downtown and listening to local bands, purchasing locally made arts and crafts, eating local food items (just don’t let the health department in), going to the parade, seeing old friends, and truly celebrating what the city I live in has to offer.

I think the Decatur Celebration should continue but it needs some major changes. Critters that can’t adapt or evolve with changes go extinct and things are always changing. There’s no changing that.

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