10 Bests of Windy City Smokeout

The fifth annual Windy City Smokeout kicked off a three-day weekend full of the best BBQ, beer, and country music, nestled by the Chicago River and offering beautiful views of the Chicago skyline. Though there are several country music festivals throughout the nation, the Windy City Smokeout isn’t another cookie-cutter country music festival; it is known to non-stop WOW all of your senses and you’ll leave feeling fulfilled, yet eager to whet your whistle with more in the future. Whether you were there for the experience or you’d like to learn more about the Windy City Smokeout experience, we have you covered with the Top 10 Bests of the 2018 Windy City Smokeout!

Buzzworthy New Artist: Jimmie Allen


Jimmie Allen was the final performer of the weekend on the Whiskey Jam stage. From the moment he rushed onto the stage to the moment he finished taking selfies with fans after his set, he was a force that could not be ignored. His positive energy and intriguing set drew the largest crowd of the weekend to the Whiskey Jam stage. It got even wilder when he jumped offstage to join the fans during his final song.

Standout Brewery: Moody Tongue

At first, it was the name that enticed and captivated me, so I stopped in for a sip of their special, Bub City Gold. My taste buds danced with joy and I knew then that this was going to be my beer of choice for the weekend. Moody Tongue is Chicago rooted, and the beverage options are expertly brewed and crafted, using locally sourced ingredients when possible. Highly recommend!

Best Smokeout Snack: Smokeout Cupcake from Sprinkles

So…I have to admit I had one of these all three days. Sprinkles Cupcakes is a Chicagoland favorite, and their special edition Smokeout cupcake was delightful. It was a boozy bacon old fashioned with the ideal ratio of sweet to savory, complete with a cherry on the bottom and a pink fondant Smokeout piggy on top! The only way it could have been anymore Windy City Smokeout appropriate was if a country artist burst out of each one singing their hit single. Bravo, Sprinkles!

Best Announcers: Stylz and Roman

Even if you’re not necessarily a country music fan, you might remember this dynamic duo from their days on B96. Currently, Stylz and Roman are the morning show voices of US99. Whenever these two hit the stage to announce the next artist, it was almost like THEY were the artist themselves, drawing a crowd to their infectious energy.

Best Photo Op: The swings at Casamigos

This was a difficult category to assess because every photo op at the Smokeout was original and totally Insta-worthy! However, I chose the swings at Casamigos because they were kind of a hidden gem! If you didn’t visit the Casamigos bar for Palomas and Margaritas, then you likely didn’t catch the swings! But, oh, if you had the chance to sit down for a drink between sets and you got to experience the breezy break from the heat on the swings, then you know this was a prime photo op!

Best Male Performance: Brett Eldredge

From the moment Brett Eldredge burst on stage shouting, “sweet home, Chicago” to the moment he brought out his famous pup, Edgar, dressed in matching Cubs jerseys, down to the last second of his energetic 90-minute set, Brett, the pride of Chicago, was the most entertaining and exciting artist to take the main stage.

Best Female Performance: Faren Rachels


Can we say country QUEEN? Faren Rachels was one of the very best performances of the entire Smokeout. She rocked the Whiskey Jam stage with her spunky stage presence and her country rooted, twangy, and sassy set. Her songwriting is unique and her music is catchy. Faren is definitely one to watch!

Best Stage Swagger: Walker Hayes


Walker Hayes lit up the Mainstage like his own countrified version of Eminem. He had heads bobbing, fists pumping, and his lyrics had everyone chuckling. His stage swagger is to be noted! Plus, how great does his first number one song, “You Broke Up With Me” sound in Chicago?!

Biggest Surprise: Brett Young inviting Tyler Reeve to the stage


In Case You Didn’t KnowTyler Reeve co-wrote Brett Young’s number one single, and since he was at the Smokeout, Brett decided to pull him on stage to sing it alongside him. It was a moment full of surprise and excitement for the crowd to experience!

Best BBQ: Lil Miss BBQ, Smoked Brisket


The BBQ and food in general at the Smokeout was out of this world delicious. However, for the sake of choosing a top BBQ place, I would say the Texas-style BBQ from Lil Miss BBQ had the best-smoked brisket. It was a tender, savory, and flavorful with the just right amount of crisp.

Were you at the Windy City Smokeout? Tweet us your favorites! @CMchatlive @Tierabolt #CMchat

Author: Tiera Bolt

Mix 1 part momma + 1 part writer + 1 part hairstylist. Add the love of laughter, adventure, and caffeine. Blend well with a passion for country music and hockey. Sprinkle with sass, and that's me.

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