JOLIET – Taste of Joliet starts Friday, beginning three days of food, music and basically a home town get-together at the city’s biggest summer festival.
“I’ve been really enjoying it the last five years,” said Donnie Lutz, who has been a Taste-goer in recent years but will be a Taste vendor this weekend.
Lutz in the past year took over Annabelle’s BBQ, which will be serving pork chops on a stick, Cajun pickles and more at the Taste.
“Being from Joliet, I figured I know a ton of people and families here. I should set up here,” he said while setting up his booth Thursday.
Annabelle’s BBQ is one of 26 vendors at Taste of Joliet.
Taste starts at noon Friday with three hours of free admission. After that, tickets are $10 purchased in advance online or $15 at the gate on the day of attendance.
Taste of Joliet music is divided between rock Friday, country Saturday, and a combination of blues, Motown and family entertainment Sunday.
Friday bands include Survivor, 38 Special and Kansas.
Saturday performers include Billy Currington and A Thousand Horses. Sunday performers include M Town and More, Big Dog Mercer and The Millennials.
Taste-goers will find added security measures this year as they enter through metal-detecting gates and are checked with wands.
Deputy Park District Director Brad Staab said the safety measures reflect world events but not problems at recent Tastes.
“We’re doing it just in light of recent events. We want to be proactive in security,” Staab said.
Taste of Joliet in 2016 attracted 55,000, the biggest attendance in the event’s history.
Staab said advance ticket sales this year are ahead of 2016. Reserved front-row tickets are sold out for both Friday and Saturday music nights.
Pirogies and gumbo
The popularity of Taste of Joliet often has been because of its music and reunion-type atmosphere.
The event typically is not an eclectic sampling of Joliet restaurants, and this year is no exception. Many of the vendors are typical festival vendors, selling funnel cakes, corn dogs and gyros.
The menu this year, however, does include pirogies and stuffed cabbage from the Dumpling House and seafood gumbo from Chuck’s Southern Comforts Cafe.
Some of the local restaurants that will be there this year are Cemeno’s, ConEcepts and Pizza for U.
Kawana Wright, who grew up in Joliet and now lives in Gurnee, is bringing her new business, The Wright Confection, to the Taste of Joliet with a selection of gourmet cookies.
“I figure it’s a way for me to get to see people I haven’t seen for a long time. It gets my name out there,” Wright said.
Gerry Mendiola, who owns Blackhawk BBQ and Windsor Ice Cream, is based out of northwest suburban Gilberts but has been coming to Taste of Joliet for six years.
It’s a well attended event that treats vendors well,” he said while setting up a booth Thursday.
“They actually provide helpers,” Mendiola said of park district staff, pointing to a man in a golf cart. “See this guy who’s going around looking to see if he can haul stuff for you. Just helping. No other event offers that.”
TASTE OF JOLIET
• Ticket prices: $15 day-of; $10 in advance; free admission noon to 3 p.m. on Friday
• Hours: Friday, noon to midnight; Saturday, noon to midnight; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
• Friday music: Hot Mess, 4:15 p.m.; 7th Heaven, 5:15 p.m.; Survivor, 6:45 p.m.; 38 Special, 8 p.m.; Kansas, 9:20 p.m.
• Saturday music: Stephen Neal, 4 p.m.; Kane Brown, 5:30 p.m.; A Thousand Horses, 7:15 p.m.; Billy Currington, 9 p.m.
• Sunday music: School of Rock, noon; The Millennials, 12:45 p.m.; Big Dog Mercer, 1:30 p.m.; Valerie Singleton, 2:30 p.m.; M Town and More, 4 p.m.