Popular McHenry fest has new name, new top sponsor, new outlook

The McHenry Area Rotary's chief annual fundraiser has a new name, new top sponsor and a special Sunday feature in the works that club members hope will draw record crowds for the three-day music, food and craft brew fest along the shore of McCullom Lake.

The decision was made going into this year to rename the fest from Blues, Brews & BBQ to Bands, Brews & BBQ. This year's fest will be Aug. 18-20 at Petersen Park, 4300 Peterson Park Road.

"The change reflects our desire to appeal to a more diverse, inclusive audience," said Diana Mark, lineup chairwoman for the event. "But those who've been longtime fans should not fear that we're ditching the blues. We're not. With John Todd, Jimmy Nick, Ivy Ford and Kevin Purcell among those in the lineup, we aren't straying far from our roots."

Headlining opening night, on Friday, Aug. 18, after Todd and Nick will be Cadillac Groove, which performs a high-energy variety of southern rock, blues, funk, R&B, soul and more. The fest gates will open at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 18, with musical performances starting at 5 and concluding at 11 p.m.

Saturday's lineup starts with the indomitable, globe-trotting blues kitten Ivy Ford at 4 p.m., followed by The Simple Remedy, billed as "classic Nashville sound mixed with Motown soul." Taking the stage for the evening's final performance on Aug. 19 will be Too Fighters Chicago, a Foo Fighters tribute band.

Sunday's performers will be Wall of Denial, Kevin Purcell & the Nightburners and Two Beer Tommy. Wall of Denial is Chicago's premier Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute band, while Purcell's swamp boogie blues licks are well-loved by the fest's diehard fans, and Two Beer Tommy will bring a country rock conclusion to the musical weekend.

"As the lineup shows, we've also returned to three bands each day, so at $10 for presale tickets and $15 at the gate, it's a great value," Mark said.

The entire fest is presented this year by the McHenry Outdoor Theater - Golden Age Cinemas, whose owner, Scott Dehn, has been a longtime supporter.

"The McHenry Area Rotary does a great job coordinating this festival for the community to enjoy - and to raise money for worthwhile causes," Dehn said. "It's something I've been impressed with for years, and I'm thrilled to take a lead role."

Additionally, this summer's fest features a first-time Sunday all-performance sponsorship by Ray Auto Group and Jeeps on the Run, coupled with a Jeep show.

"We're excited to partner with our longtime friends at Jeeps on the Run to present all of the great music that fest-goers will enjoy on Sunday," said Ray Scarpelli Jr., owner of Ray Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram and Ray Chevrolet, both in Fox Lake. "It's going to be a great time."

Don Tonyan and Denis Buch, McHenry Area Rotarians and festival co-chairmen, said sponsorships are a huge factor in the event's success, dictating how much money the club can allocate to charitable grants in the coming year.

"We're grateful to Scott Dehn, Ray Scarpelli, Mike Missak of Jeeps on the Run and others who've stepped forward, like Adams Auto Body and Volo Museum, to help us get a running start this year," Tonyan said. "We could not pull this off without them."

Buch said due to the past support of sponsors and fest-goers, the club has provided nearly $300,000 in grants dating back to the fest's start in 2012. Recent recipients have included Feed My Starving Children, the McHenry FISH Food Pantry, Kids in Need of McHenry County, Youth and Family Services of McHenry County and Rotary Secret Santa.

For other information about the fest, visit, find Bands, Brews & BBQ on Facebook or send an email to

Sponsorship details are available at

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