Windy City Smokeout 2016: Barbecue, Music, Beer and More

One of my favorite sounds in the world is the first glimpse of music when walking up to a festival.  This weekend was no different.  Thanks to my success using Spothero for the first time, I found a spot close to the grounds that didn’t break the bank, parked, stopped at an ATM and continued to the festival.  About 5 or 6 minutes into my walk I heard the sounds of new country artists filling the air.  A sound only rivaled by my Goddaughter telling me “I love you Godmommy” or hearing an idolized artist take the stage for the first time. I was ready for a good time.

What festival? Windy City Smokeout of course!  A festival with craft beers, barbecue, country music and of course Big Gay Ice Cream and margarita’s at Three Dots and a Dash, how could I go wrong?


The Good

The Food.  Oh my goodness.  The food was amazing.  Well that is if you like Barbecue! Ribs, pulled pork, wings, po’ boys galore all smothered in signature barbecue sauces from 16 different places in the United States.

The beer was spot on.  There were brewers from Chicago as well as some not so local brewers.  Of course, I pretty much stuck with my typical IPA’s, but not for lack of variety.  There was something for everyone, even the cider lovers!

Then there was the music! While the names were not as big as Lakeshakes, the music was still great and enjoyable for any country fan.  Of course my personal favorite was Maren Morris but a special shout out to Michele McGuire who I got to hear for the first time on the Whisky Jam stage.

A few people mentioned it was easy listening music, even if you didn’t like country.  Not too much twang for those that were there for the beer and grub over the vocals.

Last I have to mention the bathrooms.  I know, weird, but the trailers they had were the cleanest bathrooms I have ever used at a festival.


The Not so Good

There wasn’t many places to take a seat without paying additional money.  There was a picnic area which never seemed too crowded but many mentioned more seating would have been appreciated. A friend even said a few hay bales would have been festive and work as seating!  They did have many long wooden tables placed near food places so you could eat your grub and have your beer, too.

Water. My number one complaint is water. Lakeshake let you bring in a factory sealed or empty water bottle and had a free water stand to fill out.  Of course they had bottles to purchase as well.  Smokeout had no free water.  Best you could get was a carton of water for $3.  Price wasn’t too bad and it didn’t taste like milk as one might think. I definitely think it would have gone a long way to let people bring their bottles in and fill up.

After speaking with a neighbor and people who have attended multiple years, I learned that it was much more crowded this year than in the past.  I didn’t mind too much but it certainly did not have as much breathing room as Lakeshake.  It is without a doubt better to go get food and beer before the big acts come on after 6PM.  Especially the food that is close to the stage.  After 6 you are fighting crowds, a little bit of drunk stumbling and longer lines.



I’ll go back next year for sure but they need to consider a larger space.  560 W Grand is getting a wee bit crowded with the increased vendors and increased attendance.  Please subscribe below to find out more about Windy City Smokeout and other Chicago events!


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