First BBQ and Country Music Fest Brings a Blast of Nashville to River North

Does Chicago need yet another summer festival? Yes! Especially when it’s got smoking-hot country music stars, barbecue pit masters and an inventive head chef from Bub City calling the shots. The Windy City Smokeout two-steps into town this weekend.

Photo by: Henson Consulting Country music heartthrob Jerrod Niemann performs Friday, July 12 at Chicago's first annual Windy City Smokeout festival.

We admit it: When we first heard about this new festival getting ready to smoke up the joint it was a bit of a head-scratcher.  Country music in … Chicago? In the upscale-climbing River North neighborhood at Rush and Illinois? C’mon. But who better to make this city a believer than Chef Doug Psaltis of Bub City restaurant, part of the Lettuce Entertain You brands. Psaltis, a rock-star chef who’s fired up the kitchens at the celebrated RPM Italian and Paris Club restaurants, is carving his signature on Chicago-style barbecue.  It’s different, kids. And you have a whole weekend to sample the juicy bits at the three-day Windy City Smokeout.

Psaltis says they’ll serve up a few Bub City specialties, including beef brisket, pulled pork and spicy barbecue pork rinds. “We’ll also debut two new house-made ice cream flavors I think people are really going to enjoy,” says the cooking prodigy who was practically born to lead a Michelin-star eatery. We ask you, who could resist peanut butter and jelly or apple pie-flavored ice cream?

Sharing food court is an award-winning bill of restaurants. Chicago's own Smoque BBQ and Lillie’s Q have plates for you, and straight out of Driftwood, Texas, The Salt Lick sets the stage for the ultimate barbecue showdown. Myron Mixon, judge of Destination America’s BBQ Pitmasters TV show, is on hand to settle the inevitable bets. The food co-stars with a roster of country music heavies. Jerrod Niemann opens the festival on Friday, July 12. Get out there on Saturday, July 13 to catch Grammy-nominated David Nail. And Sunday, July 14, put Pat Green on your to-do list. Browse through the full lineup of performers to plan your weekend.

The Windy City Smokeout runs July 12-14, at the corner of Rush and Illinois Streets.  Sunday is family day, with kids under 12 admitted free before 4 p.m. Chaps not mandatory, but bring a fork.

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