By STEVEN PENN
DANVILLE — Family game night will get a “big” twist later this month in Danville, as the inaugural Game On! Downtown Festival offers families a chance to play oversized versions of some classic games.
The free festival, which is put on by the Downtown Danville Partnership, is noon to 4 p.m. June 22 around the Hendricks County Courthouse Square in Downtown Danville.
Laura Parker, Downtown Danville Partnership board member, is one of many who have been working to make the festival a reality.
“(The partnership) is an all-volunteer organization that focuses on downtown revitalization and keeping attention on our downtown and reminding people that we have a great square and we have merchants and restaurants that they can visit right here in their own backyard,” Parker said.
She added that plans for this festival have been in the works for about the last two years.
“We are a family-oriented community,” Parker said. “Visitors, residents and people in the area love to come out and participate in our events. We’re bringing them another one. It’s free, it’s outdoors, and it’s super-sized. (It’s family game night) only blown up and outdoors.”
She said there will be a multitude of giant games to check out during the festival including KerPlunk, Connect Four, dominoes, Scrabble, tic-tac-toe and more.
“The kids have a ton of activities that they can move though,” she said. “I think we’ve got 14 or 15 game or activity venues for the whole event.”
To make enough room for all of the giant games, Parker said a few streets around the square will be temporarily closed.
“We’re closing Washington Street on the square between Main and Marion,” she said. “It’s on the east side only; we’re keeping the rest of the square open for parking. Plus, our farmers’ market is taking place on the other side of the square, so we can’t shut the whole thing down all day.”
In addition to the games, she said there will also be a DJ and a food court provided by downtown merchants, complete with picnic tables so families will never be too far from the fun.
Parker said she envisions a good turnout for the first year of the event based on the attendance at other partnership events.
“The community has been really good about coming out for these kinds of events, even when we’ve done them for the first time,” she said. “Especially that it’s free and now years later that the partnership has a reputation for putting on good quality events. I think we’ll have a huge turnout.”
Parker said she feels adults will even want to join in on the fun.
“Anybody that likes games and competition, and is nostalgic for the games they played as a child, they’re going to want to play with these too. You can’t help it,” she said. “The checkers set is gigantic …You want to play with it even if you’re not a kid. I think the appeal will be even adults who are kids at heart will want to get in the act. I’m excited myself, because I can see it in my mind and I know what it’s going to look like. I think it’s going to be fantastic.”
Another organization looking forward to Game On! Downtown is Visit Hendricks County, which has supported the festival since the beginning.
Josh Duke, Visit Hendricks County communications manager, said it’s important for the organization to support anything bringing tourism to the county.
“We’re excited about it just because of it bringing more people and more business to the downtown Danville area,” Duke said. “Anytime you have any type of festival, they really make it good for the community both from an economic standpoint but also just from a community standpoint, as far as just coming together and having a fun family type of atmosphere.”
Duke said he too feels the first-year festival will be a success.
“This particular event, even though it’s a first year event, we really think it’s going to be quite popular with both locals and visitors,” he said. “Who doesn’t love to have that family game night and then expand it into this gigantic, fun festival with these giant games, and food and music and everything that goes along with it?”
For more information on the Downtown Danville Partnership, visit the website at www.visitdowntowndanville.com.
For more information on Visit Hendricks County, check out the social media pages at www.facebook.com/visithendrickscounty and Twitter @Hendricks, visit the website www.tourhendrickscounty.com or call 718-8750.
Just the facts
WHAT: Game On! Festival
WHEN: Noon to 4 p.m. June 22
WHERE: Downtown Danville