When the city becomes a stage

New Year’s party brings safe, affordable all-ages fun


click to enlarge Stone Cold Blues Band
Stone Cold Blues Band

For the past 25 years, Springfield’s downtown has become a giant party every New Year’s Eve with First Night Springfield, the first and longest-running event of its kind in Illinois. The party continues again to ring in 2013 and showcase the art of central Illinois. It comes at a decent price, too.

Penny Wollan-Kriel, executive director of the Springfield Area Arts Council, which hosts First Night Springfield, says this year’s offerings are incredibly varied, including a magic show, fireworks display, comedy, film screenings and several kinds of music.

Many of the old favorite attractions return this year, Wollan-Kriel says, as well as 16 new ones. The can’t-miss crowd favorite is always the large fireworks display at Fourth Street and Capitol Avenue, starting at 6:15. New musical acts include veteran trio Stone Cold Blues Band, roots musicians Murder of Crowes, Taylorville-based country singer Amy Benton and an eclectic collegiate band known as Glares.

click to enlarge Chris Camp “The Whip Guy”
Chris Camp “The Whip Guy”
Jazz and hip-hop have a strong presence this year, with Brazilian jazz trio Bossa Azul, Room 306 jazz quartet, and wordslingers like Aaron Matthews, R-Two and ION. Several family acts make their first appearance at First Night this year as well, including the all-recorder band Fealty, the Blackwater String Ensemble and mother-daughter gospel trio In Covenant.

Classical music is making a comeback this year, with classical pianist Sean Morris, organist Dale Rogers and others. Wollan-Kriel says Rogers’ 4:30 to 6 p.m. set at Springfield High School could be the first time that certain stops of the Barton Organ will be used in a performance since the instrument was moved from Springfield’s now-demolished Orpheum Theater decades ago.

There’s plenty for kids to do, as well. Chris Camp, the popular “Whip Guy,” starts the fun with his impressive bullwhip tricks at 1:15 at Springfield High School. Kids can do several hands-on art projects at the school, watch a puppet show or a magic show, or even learn to play the harmonica.

Adult advance tickets are $12, with tickets available at the door for $15. Youth ages 18 and under get in for $5, and family packs of two adult tickets and two youth tickets are available for $25 in advance. Tickets are available at County Markets in Springfield, Chatham and Sherman, as well as at Schnucks, Recycled Records, Robbie’s and the Hoogland Center for the Arts. For more information, call the Springfield Area Arts Council at 753-3519 or visit springfieldartsco.org/content/first-night.  

Contact Patrick Yeagle at pyeagle@illinoistimes.com.

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