All the rain across the city last Saturday morning couldn't dampen the mood for the second annual Windy City Smokeout. The event, which took place at a new location on Grand Ave. next to the Chicago River, was a weekend festival featuring some of Chicago's best barbecue alongside other smokers and roasters from around the country. Attendees had the chance to try a variety of meats and sauces while taking in the sounds of live country music.
Despite the stormy weather on Saturday forcing the Taste of Chicago to close for the first time since 1980, Windy City Smokeout weathered the early downpour and with the exception of a few drops here and there, was a relatively dry experience well into the evening hours. Chicago favorites were there offering festival goers signature items such as Smoque's brisket and Chicago q's baby back ribs.
It was also a chance to get a taste of barbecue from places outside of the city. New York's Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, which will open its first Chicago location next year, gave people a sample of what's to come with its brisket with pickled onion and jalapeno, and smoked chicken wings that seemed to be a hit. Another nationally renowned spot, Texas' The Salt Lick, served up its award-winning brisket while St. Louis represented itself well with Pappy's Smokehouse's baby back ribs and whole hog pulled pork.
In addition to all of the eating and drinking, there was also an opportunity to meet and greet with the pitmasters as they offered cooking demonstrations Saturday afternoon. Celebrity chef and barbecue world champion Myron Mixon was on hand showing guests how to smoke a whole pig and LeeAnn Whippen from Chicago q gave tips on how to prep ribs. Those who wanted to dress for the occasion could purchase cowboy hats and belt buckles, and while beer and Jack Daniels looked to be the beverages of choice, Chicago's own La Colombe had its own version of roasts for patrons.
Live entertainment for the three days was provided by a lineup of country bands including headliners Brett Eldredge, Randy Rogers Band and Eli Young Band. Even with the large turnout, lines were never long and spirits were high as the crowd enthusiastically jammed along to the tunes. With a second successful year under its belt, the event is going a long ways toward establishing Chicago as a legitimate barbecue town.
· All Windy City Smokeout Coverage [-ECHI-]