7 Things I Learned at Windy City Smokeout 2016

The weather was beautiful, the air smelled of “BBQ and cookies” (as stated by country artist and Sunday’s performer, Maren Morris) and the Windy City Smokeout was a sizzling success. It’s quite a task to narrow down and highlight three days’ worth of unforgettable moments at a festival of craft beer, top notch BBQ joints, and an astounding country music lineup, but here are 7 things I learned at the Windy City Smokeout 2016.

– Authentic country music is still alive and well. You can’t argue that “authentic” country music is a dying breed when there are performers such as Corey Smith and Whiskey Myers sharing their music to the masses at festivals like this. The Windy City Smokeout Day 2 had the most perfect, breezy, 78-degree temperature, and the Texas infused country sounds happening by Whiskey Myers were so liberating that I felt the overwhelming need to crack open a beer. Not a Bud Light, a Budweiser. Because, America. Check out this clip of Whiskey Myers doing their thing on the main stage!

– BBQ joints are king. If you could only have one style of food for the remainder of your life, wouldn’t you choose BBQ? These BBQ Pork Nachos from 17th Street BBQ were so mouth-wateringly good that I had to stop myself from giving the stink eye and shouting things like “They’re NACHOS, they’re MINE” to anyone threatening to cop a look at the delicacy.

Tieras Nachos

Ryan Hurd is the next big thing. Not only is he a fantastic songwriter, responsible for some of your favorite songs including Blake Shelton’s “We Don’t Have to be Lonely,” but he is full of energy, and – did I mention – he’s from Chicago? Watch him crush a performance of “We Do Us” on the Whiskey Jam Stage.

– Watching an artist perform their first No. 1 never gets old. Billy Currington serenaded what seemed like all of Chicago (seriously, the place was PACKED) with his very first No. 1 single, “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right.” The feels were very real.

Jessie James Decker is a girls’ girl. It’s no secret that from her flowing tresses to those killer legs, JJD is a total smoke-show, but not just to the male eye. She is crazy about her female fans, and seizes every opportunity to connect with them and let them know that she is just like all of them. She brought five random fans onto the stage while she performed a cover of Shania Twain’s “Man I Feel Like a Woman.” Check out our exclusive clip!

– You’re never too old for a photo op with friends. Professional photographers can take photos of anyone, anywhere, and it’s probably going to turn out to be a masterpiece. Most of us aren’t professional photographers, but weekends like the Windy City Smokeout still deserve to be documented in all of their glory. That’s why there were many complimentary photographers on hand, as well as several photo-op-ready spots located inside of the festival, as well as larger-than-life-sized, Smokeout themed cut-outs, and even temporary tattoos that actually smelled like real BBQ!

Windy City Smokeout Tats

Old Dominion and Chicago have a special bond. Look, I’ve seen Old Dominion play in more places than Chicago, but they light up the stage differently in this city. Maybe it’s because Chicago is one of those places that accepts people for who they are, or because Chicago is one of the places where Old Dominion first traveled to play for new crowds who showed immediate appreciation (shout out to Joe’s on Weed for introducing us to their music ahead of the radio game). Regardless, the bond is evident, and there was nothing more joyful than ending the Windy City Smokeout with a 90-minute vivacious set by the guys of Old Dominion.

Old Dominion

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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