14 suburban, city food fests to spice up your summer

  • The strawberry pie-eating contest can get a little messy at Long Grove's Strawberry Fest.

    The strawberry pie-eating contest can get a little messy at Long Grove's Strawberry Fest. Courtesy of Grimaldi Public Relations

  • Patrons wait in line to purchase Johnson's Hickory Smoked Bar B-Que during a previous Ribfest in Naperville.

    Patrons wait in line to purchase Johnson's Hickory Smoked Bar B-Que during a previous Ribfest in Naperville. Daily Herald File Photo

  • Madeline Walbridge of Naperville cools off sipping watermelon juice during last year's Ribfest in Naperville.

    Madeline Walbridge of Naperville cools off sipping watermelon juice during last year's Ribfest in Naperville. Daily Herald File Photo

 
 

What is the one thing that everyone likes to do at a summer festival? Eat. From the heat of Inferno Fest to the messiness of Naperville Ribfest and Rockin' Ribfest to the pungency of Highwood Garlic Fest, there's a fest for almost every taste.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Long Grove's Strawberry Fest

308 Old McHenry Road, Long Grove, longgrove.org/festivals/strawberry-festival/

When: Noon to 11 p.m. Friday, June 21; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, June 22; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, June 23.

What makes this fest unique: It's all about strawberries. Nosh on treats such as deep-fried strawberries on a stick, strawberry barbecue sandwiches, chocolate strawberry popcorn, strawberry banana Nutella crepes, strawberry kebabs, strawberry fudge, funnel cakes with strawberries, chocolate-covered strawberries, strawberry doughnuts and more. Confident in your eating abilities? Try the strawberry pie-eating contest at 2:30 or 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Towner Green. There will be one heat for adults and one for kids during each time slot.

Also: Expect music from Infinity at 9 p.m. Friday, Hi Infidelity at 9 p.m. Saturday and Modern Day Romeos at 4 p.m. Sunday. Plus, there's a Kid Zone featuring Medieval Times Jr. Knight training, bags, spin art coloring, face painting, carnival rides and games.

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Admission: $5 each day or $10 for a three-day pass

Fresh berries will be for sale during Strawberry Fest in Long Grove this weekend.
Fresh berries will be for sale during Strawberry Fest in Long Grove this weekend. - Courtesy of Grimaldi Public Relations
Chicago Food Truck Festival

1044 S. Plymouth Court, Chicago, chicagofoodtruckfestival.com

When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23

What makes this fest unique: Features more than 45 gourmet food trucks, including Harold's Chicken Shack, Auntie Vee's, Cupcakes for Courage, Lobster Claw, Pierogi Wagon, Chesa Gluten Free, Yum Dum, Beaver's Donuts, Whadda Jerk, Hotdog Fiend, Tamale Spaceship and more.

Also: Beer, sangria, music, games and more.

Admission: Free; early bird VIP (includes two drink tickets) for $10

Are you up to the challenge of the Inferno Fest Eating Contest?
Are you up to the challenge of the Inferno Fest Eating Contest? - Courtesy of Celebrate Highwood
Inferno Fest

Everts Park, 130 Highwood Ave., Highwood, celebratehighwood.org/inferno-fest

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

When: 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 26

What makes this fest unique: Get ready to feel the heat as this fest showcases the hottest and spiciest foods and beverages, including hot wings, picante tacos and salsa, spicy pasta dishes, peppery nuts and more. If you dare, try the free Inferno Fest Eating Contest for those 18 and older at 8 p.m. at the gazebo. Whoever can eat the most La Casa de Isaac hot taquitos without asking for a beverage will win a $200 gift card.

Also: Derrick Procell and the Redeemers will perform. Kid- and pet-friendly.

Admission: Free

Ribs make their way to the judges during a previous Ribfest in Naperville.
Ribs make their way to the judges during a previous Ribfest in Naperville. - Daily Herald File Photo
Naperville's Ribfest

Knoch Park, 724 S. West St., Naperville, www.ribfest.net

When: Noon to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, July 3-6

What makes this fest unique: Since this is the last Ribfest at Naperville's Knoch Park, the Exchange Club of Naperville is going all out with a variety of rib vendors and some heavy-hitting musical acts to match. Ribbers -- Armadillo's, Uncle Bub's, Pigfoot, Salk Creek Barbecue, Desperado's, Texas Outlaws and more -- will be serving up a variety of barbecue ribs, pulled pork, barbecue chicken and sauces from mild to red hot. Plus, don't miss the food trucks -- Bricks wood-fired pizza, Burritoville, My Funnel, Perk-N-Pickle and more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Also: Get your tickets now for the Navistar Main Stage (North Park) acts including Living Colour at 6:30 p.m. and Billy Idol at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday ($35 general admission to $250 for Skybox access); KC & the Sunshine Band at 5 p.m. and Flo Rida at 7:30 p.m. Thursday ($20-$200); Randy Houser at 6:30 p.m. and Brantley Gilbert at 8:30 p.m. Friday ($35-$250); and Bad Company at 8:30 p.m. Saturday ($25-$250). The South Stage features bands, plus there's a carnival, rides, a kids' area, vendors and more. Fireworks at 9:30 p.m. Thursday.

Admission: $5 for all-day access to the South Park; free for kids 11 and younger. This does not include access to the North Park or the Navistar Main Stage.

Taste of Chicago 2019

Grant Park, 337 E. Randolph St., Chicago, www.choosechicago.com

When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, July 10-12, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 13-14

What makes this fest unique: Hungry? Just know that it might be hard to choose from the 82 food vendors, including 24 pop-ups and 17 food trucks. Newcomers include Yvolina's Tamales, Ben's Bar-Be-Cu, Brazilian Bowl Inc. and Buscia's Bacon Buns. Plus, take in cooking demonstrations from Chef Mary Nguyen of Saigon Sisters, Chef Martial Noguier of Bistronomic, Chef Michael Sheerin of Taureaux Tavern and Chef Giancarlo Valera of Tanta Chicago in the Lifeway Foods Taste Kitchen on Buckingham Fountain Plaza.

Also: Petrillo Music Shell will host a bevy of concerts including Courtney Barnett Wednesday; Bomba Estéreo Thursday; De La Soul Friday; The Strumbellas Saturday; and India.Arie Sunday. General admission seating costs $20 or grab a free seat on the lawn. And don't miss the dance lessons, theater performances and more.

Admission: Free entry; food tickets are 14 for $10

Ribs come off the grill at the Pigfoot booth during last year's Lake in the Hills Ribfest. This year's fest runs July 11-14.
  Ribs come off the grill at the Pigfoot booth during last year's Lake in the Hills Ribfest. This year's fest runs July 11-14. - John Starks | Staff Photographer, 2018
Lake in the Hills Rockin' Ribfest

Sunset Park, 5200 Miller Road, Lake in the Hills, www.lithribfest.com

When: 4:30 to 11 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 11-12; 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, July 13; and 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, July 14

What makes this fest unique: Ribs and barbecue from professional ribbers including Pigfoot BBQ & Rib Co., Texas Outlaw BBQ, Armadillo's BBQ, Fine Smoke BBQ, After Hours BBQ and Mojo's Rib Shack. Plus, amateur grillers can show off their talents during the Lip Smackin' BBQ Smack-Down Community Rib Cook-Off on Sunday. Registration is required for the cook-off.

Also: Music from Kashmir at 8:30 p.m. Thursday; Draw the Line at 9 p.m. Friday; Sister Hazel at 9 p.m. Saturday; and Haulin' Oats at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Plus, vendors, kids' games and more.

Admission: $5; free for kids 12 and younger

Food Truck Festival

Arlington International Racecourse, 2200 W. Euclid Ave., Arlington Heights, arlingtonpark.com/

When: Gates open at noon Saturday, July 13

What makes this fest unique: More than 20 food trucks -- Wok n' Roll, My Funnel, Toasty Cheese, Crave Bar, Happy Lobster, Culinary Gangster, Cajun Connoisseur, Tropical Chill, Pierogi Wagon and more -- will be offering a variety of fare. The $50 Hungry as a Horse VIP ticket includes admission, 12 food truck tickets and four domestic beer and/or wine tickets.

Admission: $10 adults; $4 kids

Fox Lake Bloody Mary Fest

On Grand Avenue in downtown Fox Lake, eventbrite.com/

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 14

What makes this fest unique: Sample a variety of Bloody Marys from local bars.

Also: Live music. This is a 21-and-older event.

Admission: Advance: $25 (includes six 8-ounce Bloody Mary samples, Bloody Mary voting tickets and a mini Mason jar); at the door: $10 (admission only), based on availability

North Shore Taco Fest

Highwood Metra Station Parking Lot, 317 Green Bay Road, Highwood, www.celebratehighwood.org

When: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, July 20, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, July 21

What makes this fest unique: Try tacos from more than 20 vendors, including ones filled with duck and hominy, braised short rib and Brussels sprouts, mahi mahi, sweet potato, tofu, brisket and more. Plus, try a dessert pie taco or a cookie ice cream taco. And vote for your favorite.

Also: Rico! performs at 9:30 p.m. Saturday and Manny Torres with LeftJones plays at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Expect carnival rides, food from local vendors, and a beer, sangria and margarita garden.

Admission: Free

51st annual Sugar Grove Corn Boil

Volunteer Park, 61 Main St., Sugar Grove, sugargrovecornboil.org

When: 4 to 11 p.m. Friday, July 26; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, July 27; and 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 28.

What makes this fest unique: Lots and lots of corn.

Also: Music, craft and vendor fair, carnival, bingo, a 5K run/walk on Saturday, medallion hunt and family activities. Parade steps off at 5 p.m. Friday from Route 30 and Municipal Drive and proceeds to Volunteer Park. Fireworks at 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

Admission: Free

Highwood Bloody Mary Fest

Everts Park, 130 Highwood Ave., Highwood, celebratehighwood.org/bloody-mary-fest/

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 28

What makes this fest unique: More than 15 vendors will present their Bloody Mary creations while vying for the titles of "Best Bloody Mary," "Best Garnish" and "People's Choice Award."

Also: Live music, food and artisan vendors.

Admission: Free

Naperville Food Truck Festival

Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville, eventbrite.com/

When: Early entry: 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 10; general admission: Noon to 7 p.m.

What makes this fest unique: Choose fare from 25 food trucks, including The Happy Lobster Truck, Mother Wilma's Marshmallow Factory, Da Pizza Dude, PIKO Street Kitchen, Hicks BBQ and many more.

Also: The family-friendly fest features a DJ, a beer and wine garden, a vendor village and more.

Admission: Early entry: $10 online, $15 at the door; general: $5 online, $10 at the door

Veggie Fest Chicago

Danada South Park, 2701 Navistar Circle, Lisle, www.veggiefestchicago.com

When: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 10-11

What makes this fest unique: After a one-year break, Veggie Fest returns with an international food court featuring vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free fare; music; food demos; more than 100 vendor booths; and health professionals speaking on diet, lifestyle and environmental issues.

Admission: Free

Highwood Garlic Fest

Everts Park, 130 Highwood Ave., Highwood, celebratehighwood.org/garlic-fest/

When: 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14

What makes this fest unique: Garlic, and a lot of it. Sample a variety of sweet and savory garlic creations, from garlic ice cream, cupcakes and cocktails to pastas, breads, sauces and butters. Also features a Taste of Garlic Competition and the Garlic Royalty and Princess Competition.

Admission: Free

Katie Anderson of Mundelein enjoys some ribs during last year's Little Bear Ribfest in Vernon Hills. The fest returns Aug. 16-17.
  Katie Anderson of Mundelein enjoys some ribs during last year's Little Bear Ribfest in Vernon Hills. The fest returns Aug. 16-17. - Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer, 2018
Little Bear Ribfest

Century Park, 1001 Lakeview Parkway, Vernon Hills, vhparkdistrict.org/little-bear-ribfest/

When: 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16, and 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17

What makes this fest unique: The fest is all about brews and barbecue from local restaurants such as Real Urban Barbecue, Smokin' T's Bar-B-Que, BBQ'd Productions, Big Ed's BBQ and Brothers' BBQ.

Also: Blues Beatles perform at 9 p.m. Friday and Kenny Neal plays at 9 p.m. Saturday.

Admission: $5; free for kids 5 and younger

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