Walt Whitman, the 80s, Jerry Garcia, the Blues, Disco and all things Geek to be celebrated this weekend

Tributes to Walt Whitman & Jerry Garcia, a Disco fundraiser and a geeky fan fest are some of the things to do this weekend

Yes, the countdown to the end of summer has begun, but you won’t have time to mope with so much going on across the area. For some reason this is a big weekend to pay tribute to cherished people and things, but that’s not all — not by a long shot. Click on the links for more info and directions to en event!

Keeping the music alive

Friday marks the 34th anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s passing. Chicago’s best Grateful Dead tribute band, Terrapin Flyer, will observe the occasion at Bloomington’s The Castle Theatre from 8:30 pm – 11:30 pm. More psychedelic delights await on Saturday, when Central Illinois’ top Dead tributes, Sunshine Daydream and The Surreal, come together at The Iron Post for a mini-festival (complete with vendors) dubbed Urbana is Dead. It’s a-happening from 6:30 pm – midnight.

Urbana is Dead

The Deadhead fest will face some serious competition, though, as the Prairie Crossroad Blues Fest is going down less than a mile away at the Champaign County Fairgrounds from 2 pm – 10 pm. The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society put together an impressive line-up, with acts coming from as far as California.

Prairie Crossroads Blues Fest 2019

This is almost too much

Arts Partners of Central Illinois is putting on a massive showcase for the Peoria-area creative community, with 100 artist and maker booths, 28 performance groups and six workshops — plus, a hackathon presented by River City Labs. It’s going on basically all day Saturday, from 9 am – 5 pm at the Peoria Civic center, and it’s even free. Get the full list of performances/workshops here.

Ignite Peoria

Art to view — and hear

Head to Decatur’s First Friday Art Walk for two artists receptions: Springfield’s Thom Whalen will be at the Madden Arts Center to talk about “Frenzy!”, a showcase of his genre-defying paintings, at 6 pm. Meanwhile, Decatur’s own Casey Wilen will be at The ArtFarm for the opening of “Consumption: Artwork by Casey Wilen.”

Frenzy! Paintings by Tom Whalen

“Erin Hayden: Flower-o’-the-Moon” also opens at University Galleries of Illinois State University on Friday, premiering six new paintings and a video by a Chicago-based ISU alumna who explores the possibilities of digital art.

If you haven’t seen “The Art of the Brick,” Saturday’s a good day to catch up; Nathan Sawaya, the man behind this surprisingly non-gimmicky LEGO art exhibit, will be at the Peoria Riverfront Museum for a book signing from 1:30 pm – 3 pm (free), followed by a live interview (ticketed event) at 6 pm.

An Evening with Nathan Sawaya

Springfield’s The Pharmacy Gallery & Art Space is going multimedia with “Arttext,” a blend of visual works by Pharmacy members artists with poetry by members of Springfield Poets & Writers and others — and it’s happening from 6 pm – 9 pm on both Friday and Saturday, giving you ample opportunity to make it. And there’s even more poetry to enjoy in Springfield on Sunday, as the Vachel Lindsay House observes the 200th birthday of Walt Whitman with readings, a scholarly talk and more from 2 pm – 4 pm.

Bye Shakespeare, hello musical theater

Curtains are coming down on the 42nd Illinois Shakespeare Festival, but this weekend you can still catch performances of Caesar and As You Like It.

But if musical theater is more your speed, then you’ve got plenty of choices, now and through the coming months. The Peoria Players Theatre is going Back to the 80’s with an homage to Back to the Future, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and other popular flicks from the decade.

Back to the 80's

If you prefer musicals of the old-fashioned variety, not to worry: Springfield’s MUNI is doing the Royal Shakespeare (that name again) Company’s adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, while East Peoria’s Eastlight Theatre goes the Disney route with Newsies. and Peoria’s Cornstock Theatre goes off the beaten path with The Robber Bridegroom.

Just plain fun

Satisfy the geek in you at the Urbana Free Library’s annual celebration of pop culture! Enjoy events for all ages from 11 am – 4 pm on Saturday, totally free, of course.

Fan Con

For grown-up fun, head to the Contemporary Art Center (CAC) of Peoria’s Boogie Night Disco Costume Party! DJ juanGoblin will spin the greatest hits of the Disco era as the classic movie Car Wash is projected on the wall. Guests dressed in a disco costume will be in the running for a grand prize, and everyone can vote — by dancing(!) — for their favorite costume. And it’s a fundraiser for the CAC, of course. It’s on Saturday from Saturday from 7 pm -11 pm.

Yes, they did this last year too. We don’t know whether the masked guy won.

As always, these are just some highlights; for our full calendar, go here. And if we’re missing your event, you can add it here.