Hundreds toasted to the end of summer last weekend at the Joliet City Center Partnership’s second annual Blues & Brews on 66.
The festival was made possible thanks to a partnership with the Joliet Park Foundation.
“Beer and blues go well together,” said Lauren Las, marketing and events manager for Joliet City Center Partnership. “What we like about it is that at the [Joliet] City Center Partnership, we try to prepare these events to have people come downtown and see all these great places we have open… So, if we can put on a blues fest and work with the [Joliet] Park Foundation, who’s a nonprofit—to help raise money for the grade school parks—it’s a win-win.”
Blues & Brews on 66 drew in 600-800 people last year, Las said. This time around, Joliet City Center Partnership was hoping to bring in a couple thousand.
“I think what’s nice about it is that our MC—tonight, his name is T-Bird Huck, [and] he played in a band last year—he does a real history of blues in Joliet,” Las said. “He really ties it into the area. So, we always give a rich music history [of] Illinois and Joliet… That’s been a fun aspect to have.”
This year, more than 40 craft beers were on tap for people to try. The festival featured a number of local brewers, including Elder Brewing Company of Joliet, Nevin’s Brewing Company of Plainfield and Noon Whistle Brewing of Lombard.
Jean Beechy, of Monee, sat at table with her husband, Dave, as they mingled between bits of food, beer and conversation.
“I think it’s a really great idea [to hold this festival] because it brings a lot of people out,” she said.
Jean said they came out last year for Blues & Brews on 66, and she is glad they decided to return.
“Of course, the Elder [Brewing Company’s] beer was the best,” he said. “It was pale ale—very good, smooth, not too hoppy.”
Alejandro Margo, of Joliet, said he did not know what to expect when he dropped in, but he likes what the festival aims to offer.
“It’s great,” he said, referring to a sample of craft beer. “It tastes good. It’s a Bridgestone [American Pale Ale.] It’s really good.”
Margo said he decided to drop in because he considers himself to be a “big fan” of craft beer.
Margo said he is excited to see “when you get different breweries from around the state and different areas to come here and [you] can taste multiple ones at once.”
All proceeds raised from the craft beer tastings are to help rebuild playgrounds at Marycrest, Farragut, Thomas Jefferson, Carl Sandburg and Taft schools.
“These are the parks that kids play on during school, but also it’s for the community after school hours,” said Jennifer Prosise, president of Joliet Park Foundation. “They’re kind of almost in shambles and need to get repaired at this point.”
The costs to repair the equipment range from $125,000-140,000.
“This is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year,” Prosise said.