Hello again, fellow roadies! This weekend, route roadies in Chicago are blessed with a full two days’ worth of worthy events (that’s in addition to everything else going on in the immediate area, like the special exhibits at the Art Institute and the usual tours at the top of the Sears Tower, etc.). First up today is the annual Berwyn Route 66 Car Show, a don’t-miss, no-admission event in Illinois as it is second in size only to the Mother Road Festival in downstate Springfield. Flashy vehicles, food and fun, and did we mention it’s FREE? Yessir! Be there, or be square. Berwyn is the second suburb you encounter outside Chicago when traveling Route 66, one whose civic leaders very consciously promote Route 66 – and Berwyn’s history on the route – all year long. It’s also home to the Berwyn Route 66 Museum, which is one of the co-sponsors of the car show.
Then there’s the first annual CineFest in the Douglas Park area of Chicago, a weekend-long celebration of feature-length movies and TV series filmed in Chicago (many of which have been at least partially produced at fest sponsor Cinestage Chicago). And perhaps the best part of that festival is that the beverages of choice will be brewskis supplied by next-door neighbor Lagunitas-Chicago brewery, Chicago’s largest craft beer producer. Cinestage Chicago occupies the historic former Ryerson Steel campus, which is located between Western Avenue on the easternmost end and Washtenaw Avenue on the west, Route 66/Ogden Avenue on the north and the railroad viaduct that runs on an angle roughly between 17th to 18th Streets and parallel to Ogden. In fact, Lagunitas itself is in a former Ryerson warehouse that the brewery rents from Cinestage under a 99-year lease. So you have history all around you at both of these events this weekend.
In fact, our suggestion is that you attend the car show today and CineFest tomorrow – work them both in, if you can, then dine somewhere on the route afterwards.
In case you don’t follow Lagunitas Brewing Company’s CEO, the Chicago born-and-bred Tony Magee on Twitter, tonight is the new Douglas Park brewery’s grand opening for its tap room & beer sanctuary at 1843 S. Washtenaw Ave. in Chicago. The tap room entrance is through a cool high-tech, LED-lit tunnel that has programmable colors. Yowza! Should be quite a party — there’s a live band scheduled, but you never know: Magee’s own garage band, Alice Drinks The KoolAid, may jam as well (the group played one of the side stages during the recent Chicago Blues Festival). Tour hours for the new brewhouse, meanwhile, are Wednesdays through Sundays, 11am-9pm. Mondays and Tuesdays will be reserved for private parties, charity events, etc.
Lagunitas-Chicago has the largest brewery in the state now, which has resulted in the creation of thousands of local jobs, says a very happy Gov. Pat Quinn, who was at the chain-cutting ceremony last week. The brewery is over on the former Ryerson Steel campus, in a warehouse under long-term lease from Cinestage Chicago, a rentable film production facility that shares the campus.
It’s 2014 and we’re baa-ack! Yes, we know: we’re a bit late in returning after the Thanksgiving-Hanukkah-solstice-Christmas-Kwanzaa-New Year-MLK-Super Bowl hiatus, but sue us, we were having a good time with family and friends during the seemingly neverending holiday extravaganza. Got a bit snoozy after all those meat comas and hibernated, sort of. Then we got popsicled by the Polar Vortex and had to break out the serious down – brrrrr! What a rude awakening. But hey, at least we woke up before Groundhog Day, right? Blame it on the chilly season: we’re finally having a Real Winter again in Chicagoland after, what, maybe four decades? Sounds right. I knew that 50-below Eddie Bauer Polar Parka fit for the Himalayas would come in handy some day.
‘Tis the season to stay indoors and warm yourself with Route 66 dreams, if not road trip plans for later in the year. That makes this the perfect time for some Route 66 metro Chicago news updates. We have some tidbits to tease you before we get back to the big stuff in our next post.
Video poker on Route 66; where will it end?? Photo copyright 2014 by M.R. Traska
So you thought we’d mentioned all the local summer events on Route 66 already, did you? But wait – there’s more! This very weekend, on Saturday, July 20 from 5:30pm to 9:00pm, there will be a craft beer tasting on the very lovely rooftop deck of the Joliet Area Historical Museum! The Rooftop Terrace will host a vast array of premium and import beers and ciders from more than a dozen craft brewers. And the view there is fantastic. Imagine: you could be watching the sun set over beautiful (?) downtown Joliet while sipping a handcrafted brewski and enjoying what little breeze there is likely to be, given the sweltering forecast.
Joliet Historical Museum & Route 66 Welcome Center Photo copyright 2012 by Keith Yearman
Chicago craft-beer fans always hoped that one of their favorite beers with a Chicago heritage would finally come home from California. Well, it’s happening: Lagunitas Brewing Co., currently of Petaluma, CA, is coming to Chicago. As you read this, the company, founded in the Bay Area by former Chicagoan Tony Magee, is building a new brewery and brewpub between 17th and 18th Street along the west side of Rockwell Avenue in Douglas Park. And it’ll be right near historic Route 66.
Welcome to the Mother Road, Magee and company!! Here’s hoping your arrival will mean the creation of a Route 66 Special brew – you’d have a better claim to it than most.
Magee may not realize it, but it’s highly fitting that Lagunitas Chicago should be rising where it is, barely three blocks off the route. In the southern half of Chicago, you’re never far from a connection to either Route 66 or to Al Capone. The intersection of Rockwell and Ogden has both. Ogden Avenue is Route 66 between Jackson Boulevard on the Near West Side and Harlem Avenue in southwest suburban Berwyn. And the south side of Ogden between Talman and Rockwell Avenues, near Douglas Park, is where Edward J. ‘Fast Eddie’ O’Hare was assassinated – allegedly by some of Capone’s minions – on November 8, 1939, just before the big man himself was due to be released from federal prison.