Windy City Smokeout returns as city braces for 2021 festival season

Chicago News

CHICAGO — The Windy City Smokeout returned Thursday for the first time since 2019 as the city is bracing for a delayed summer festival season due to the pandemic.

Festival-goers will have to show proof of a vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to gain entry to the event, which is being held once again outside of the United Center.

Charlie McKenna, of Lillie Q’s, is excited to cook his ribs on the grill again.

“I was upset that it was ended right. Obviously wanting to look forward to this event. Obviously my hometown a lot of my friends hang out on the trailer and want to cook with me,” McKenna said.

Headliners include Thursday night’s Brett Eldredge, Friday night’s Darius Rucker, Saturday night’s Dierks Bentley and Sunday night’s Jon Pardi.

This year will feature all of the same fun, but will have different rules to get in.

“The City of Chicago still requires additional precautions, you have to have a negative COVID test or a vaccine presented,” said President of Lettuce Entertain You R.J. Melman.

Throughout the city, other festivals are getting ready to get underway. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is gearing up for its big return Friday at Ravinia.

“Happy because everyone’s been shut down and we need to get back to everything that’s going on in Chicago,” resident Darnel Martinez said. “Get back in the community.”

Grant Park will soon be gearing up for Lollapalooza, which is returning Thursday, July 29 to Sunday, August 1. A delayed Pitchfork Music Festival will take place in Union Park from Sept. 10 through 12 and Riot Fest returns to Douglass Park from Sept. 17 through 19.

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