2018 Blues, Brews & BBQ features new activities

McHenry's own John Todd Band will once again will kick off the three-day Blues, Brews & BBQ festival at Petersen Park in McHenry.
McHenry's own John Todd Band will once again will kick off the three-day Blues, Brews & BBQ festival at Petersen Park in McHenry.

A cooking demonstration, an opportunity to meet a craft brewer, more musical acts and an expanded pro-level barbecue competition are on tap for Blues, Brews & BBQ at Petersen Park in McHenry.

Presented this year by premier sponsor D.C. Cobb’s of McHenry, the Rotary Club of McHenry’s three-day music, craft beer and barbecue event will be Aug. 17 to Aug. 19. Gates open at 4:30 p.m., and the music starts at 5 p.m. Aug. 17, with a return performance of local favorite the John Todd Band. Big Dog Mercer takes the Northwest Herald stage at 7 p.m., and John Primer greets the crowd at 9 p.m. on opening night.

Music starts at 4 p.m. Aug. 18, when the lineup includes Jimmy Nick and Don’t Tell Mama, Brother John Kattke and The Blooze Brothers. The sounds of Alabaster will kick things off at noon Aug. 19, followed by Eric Clapton tribute band Eric and the Dynamos.

Capping things off Aug. 19 will be a trio of Delmark recording artists: Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames, Demetria Taylor, and the Mike Wheeler Band.

“I can’t wait to see the great crowds that have been a part of our fest family for the last several years,” said Don Tonyan, a Rotarian who co-chairs the event with Donna Schaefer. “The new pro-level barbecue contest added a lot of excitement last year, and I expect that will continue to build.”

Tickets are $10 at the gate. A variety of craft beers and other libations will be available. D.C. Cobb’s McHenry, Dr. Vegetable, BBQ’d Productions Sports Bar & Grill, Trainwreck Smoking Co., Smokey Spike’s BBQ, Riverside Chocolate Factory, The Twist Pretzels, Toasty Cheese Mobile Eatery, Ruthella’s New Orleans Cuisine, Richmond-Spring Grove Area Rotary and MJ’s Coffee Bar will be on hand selling barbecue, sweet corn and other food and soft drinks.

The Kansas City Barbeque Society grand champion selected Aug. 19 will receive a share of $8,000 in total prize money – up from $5,000 last year – as well as an invitation to the 2019 American Royal World Series of Barbecue and a chance to compete in the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational.

Noncompetitors who would like to gain some pro-level tips are invited to a cooking demo at 3 p.m. Aug. 18 offered by contestant Nick “Moose” Schmidt of Salem, Wisconsin, a pit master with several first-place finishes to his credit.

“If you want to see how the pros cook ribs, this is your chance,” he said.

Craft beer aficionados will enjoy the chance to meet brewer Bob Master of McHenry Brewing Co., who will offer a smoked porter with a hint of chocolate he is brewing specially for the fest. Master will answer beer-making and brewing company questions from noon until 4 p.m. Aug. 19, or until his supply runs out.

Finally, visitors will have the chance to see a unique exhibit including an actual iron lung of the type used during the polio epidemic of the 1940s and ’50s. The educational display includes photos of Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Roy Rogers, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (who contracted polio in his late 30s) and other celebrities who helped to eliminate polio in the U.S.

For decades, Rotary Clubs around the world through Rotary International have been key partners in a global drive to eradicate the crippling, incurable disease. The exhibit includes a history of the project that has reduced polio cases by 99.9 percent worldwide.

A portion of Blues, Brews & BBQ proceeds goes toward this and other international humanitarian projects, while 80 percent stays local and supports area academic programs, youth leadership initiatives, veteran-related causes, health programs for those in need, food and diaper banks, McHenry County College’s Liebman Science Center and more. Those interested in learning more should visit mchenryrotary.org.

More than 30 area individuals and businesses have contributed between $100 and $5,000 each toward sponsorships for Blues, Brews & BBQ 2018, with the total slightly exceeding $25,000 to date.

Sponsorships offset event costs, allowing more of the funds generated through admission and raffle ticket sales, contests and vendor fees to go toward charities.

Band sponsor Elgin Recycling additionally donated four Cubs tickets valued at $300 and two Blackhawks tickets (plus a parking pass) valued at $480, which will be raffled off at Blues, Brews & BBQ. Raffle tickets will be $1 each or six for $5.

“Come enjoy the music, food, beverages, conversation with neighbors, friends and family,” said Rotary Club of McHenry President John Halbleib, “and know that your participation is benefiting others.”

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