Windy City Smokeout 2021: It’s a wrap

Windy City Smokeout 2021: It’s a wrap
The crowd. Photo: Brett Brewer

The first major festival since the pandemic, last weekend’s Windy City Smokeout, is history. If the huge crowds in United Centre’s parking lot C were any indication–Chicago is ready to party.

Bands, beer, BBQ & more

Country music fans were treated to some of the Nation’s top performers including Darius Rucker, Dierks Bentley and Jon Pardi headline Friday through Sunday, with rising stars such as Larry Fleet, Lainey Wilson, Walker County, Ryan Hurd and Tyler Booth also playing sets.

The Menu

Nothing but the best for BBQ fans with both local and national chefs at the grills cooking up some serious BBQ.

Favorites included:

Mike Johnson (Sugarfire Smokehouse St. Louis, MO

Chef Mike Johnson has studied with Myron Mixon, cooked under Emeril Lagasse and Charlie Trotter, and has overseen the creation of six other restaurants. Sugarfire was named Best Barbecue by the Travel Channel, St. Louis Magazine, Feast Magazine, and won awards at the Memphis in May World Barbecue Championships. Mike has also been featured on Pitmasters, Beat Bobby Flay, and Burgers, Brew, and Que.

Brian Scoggins, Pappy’s Smokehouse (St. Louis, MO)

Named ”Best Ribs in America” by The Food Network, the crew at Pappy’s keeps it simple, with a comic on providing an atmosphere for great food and good times! As an original member and owner of the Pappy’s Smokehouse team, Brian Scoggins spent his early days working in restaurants and in bars in Germany, and then set his roots in St. Louis, quickly learning the art of Memphis-style BBQ from some of the best. Since opening its doors in 2009, Pappy’s Smokehouse has served more than 3 million guests from around the globe. 

Ole Hickory Pits

Barbecue industry pioneer & Ole Hickory Pits founder David B. Knight has manufactured state-of-the-art commercial, competition and residential barbecue smoker ovens out of his Cape Girardeau, MO factory since 1974 . Ole Hickory Pits uses its own patented Convecture™ Technology to create unique, efficient, energy saving, genuine barbecue smokers. OHP believes we should all be good stewards of our environment and strives eagerly to create the most efficient solid-fuel burning smoking equipment available. Ole Hickory Pits sells its products throughout the world to customers who require the highest quality and reliability from their smokers.

Plus a who’s who of Chicago BBQ including Bub City, Lillie’s Q from Bucktown and West Town’s Green Street Smoked Meats.

In addition to BBQ fans could chow down on Gay Ice Cream, Sushi-San,Tallboy Tac, mac-and-cheese and more.


A host of beer tents took up nearly a city block offering a quality line-up of craft beer at not too crazy prices. There was also sangaria, wine, Maker’s Mark and Jim Bean (one of the sponsors) and more.

The Vibe

It was obvious that people were giddy to be out and about after a year of lockdown. In addition to the great country music, the vibe was definitely county with in with cornhole games, hay bail seating, picnic tables and Adirondack chairs.


Photo: Brett Brewer

Tickets were for music only–food, drinks and merchandise was extra. VIP tickets were also offered–and recommended for the claustrophobic. The VIP areas had shorter lines, better stage views, premium wine and spirits and more seating.

Filed under: Chicago Festivals

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