Windy City Smokeout: Summer’s Must-Attend Festival


Down by the Chicago River, underneath the Ohio Street Bridge sits one of the summer’s best kept music festival secrets. (Although with back-to-back sell-outs July 15-16, maybe the secret’s finally out.)  Windy City Smokeout, now in it’s fifth year, brings together top brewers, pitmasters, and arguably one of the best musical lineups you’ll come across.  With 25+ beer options, BBQ offerings from 13 of the finest pitmasters in the country, and headlining shows from Jake Owen, Kip Moore, and Lee Brice, Windy City felt like one of the best block parties ever thrown – complete with twinkle lights, rope chandeliers and the skyline as the perfect backdrop. In case you still need persuading to grab your tickets in advance next year, here are three reasons why Chicago’s Windy City Smokeout should top your list of must-see music festivals:

The Drinks

Windy City’s beer selection went beyond just local offerings to incorporate brews from all over the U.S. Whether you’re a Shiner fan or prefer to keep it simple with a cold Budweiser, you’ll find something for even the pickiest beer drinker at Windy City Smokeout. Plus, non-beer fans have plenty of whiskey and even tropical mai tai’s and hurricanes to satisfy their thirst!

The Food

All. The. BBQ.  Whether you prefer your BBQ Texas or Tennessee style, you’re able to taste test all varieties from 13 of the top pitmasters at Windy City Smokeout.  Complete with sides ranging from classics like potato salad and coleslaw to jalapeño cheese grits, there’s no shortage of options and you’ll more than get your fill of ribs, pulled pork, and chicken wings by the end of the weekend. Windy City Smokeout even makes it easy to convince your non-BBQ loving friends to tag along for the weekend by offering poke bowls, mac and cheese, and delicious burger options. Not to mention epic desserts, from pies and cobblers to ice cream and edible cookie dough, there’s something for every foodie in your group!

The Music

From big names to up-and-comers, Windy City Smokeout knows how to put together a line up of awesome music!  Taking some help from Nashville based Whiskey Jam, the festival pulls together two stages of some of country music’s hottest acts.  Attendees were introduced to artists who are soon to become household names on the Whiskey Jam stage (if you’re ever in Nashville on a Monday night, hit up Loser’s bar for the original Whiskey Jam). The lineup included some of our favorites like CJ Solar, Chris Bandi, Muscadine Bloodline and Mike Ryan.  The main stage is where attendees were treated to performances by newcomers like Luke Combs and Jackie Lee and fan favorites Kip Moore, Brandy Clark, Ryan Hurd, and Lee Brice!  The best part is that unlike a lot of festivals these days, you don’t have to walk what feels like a mile between the stages, it’s just across the parking lot… and there’s beer and food lining your path so you can stop for refills of either on your way!

While we might be a little biased because we were able to spend a good amount of time during the festival perched above the crowd on the Peg Leg Porker BBQ rig, we definitely won’t be missing Windy City Smokeout in the future.  The energetic, neighborhood block party vibe combined with the amazing food, beverage and musical lineups have us dreaming about next year before we’ve even managed to wash the smell of BBQ out of our hair.