Bands instead of Blues, but McHenry festival keeping on with music, brews and BBQ

Annual festival keeps the Blues beat Friday but expands genres in lineup

Sharon Lewis of Sharon Lewis and Texas Fire perform during McHenry Area Rotary Club's Blues, Brews & BBQ festival at Petersen Park in McHenry Saturday, August 20, 2022. The fundraising festival featured craft beer, blues music and barbecue and raises funds to go toward endeavors like the club’s Secret Santa program and Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, both of which foster the concept of looking out for one another.

Denis Buch is all about the brews. And the BBQ. And he likes the Blues, too.

Buch is one of the co-chairmen of Bands, Brews & BBQ, the McHenry Rotary Club’s annual fundraising event – previously known as Blues, Brews & BBQ.

The renamed festival runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday at McHenry’s Petersen Park.

The Blues moniker was dropped from the event’s name and the musical lineup has changed this year to bring in a wider lineup of bands - thus the name change, Buch said.

“What are the different genres that people want?” Buch asked.

When they started, Buch said, there were a lot more people attending who were into the Blues.

“What we have seen is some of our aficionados ... they also get another year old and older,” Buch said.

Neither do they drink as much – and alcohol sales are part of the fundraising efforts. By changing up the musical lineup, they hope to attract a new generation of musical fans, he said.

With variety in mind, neither are the brews just beer, or the food just BBQ, he added.

“There are 14 kinds of beer, not three, four or five,” Buch said. “We have different beer and ales, and some of the other canned-type beverages” for people who are not beer drinkers.

There are just some people who don’t like beer and want other options. So, wines and hard seltzers are also on the drinks menu, he added.

“We hopefully can hit any beverage palette anyone would want,” Buch said.

BBQ is also in the name and there are four BBQ vendors set for the weekend – Big E BBQ, Little Rock Stock Café, Rolling Smoke BBQ and Trainwreck Smoking Co.

There are other options than BBQ for food, too.

The non-barbecue offerings include Churros Y Chocolate, K&M Concessions/Dr. Vegetable, My Funnel Truck, Perk ‘n’ Pickle, Riverside Chocolate Factory, Smash’d and Your Sister’s Tomato.

“There are are people who want to come for the music but are not BBQ aficionados,” he said. “There is enough of a diverse group of people from food trucks ... to whatever you want.”

And while Friday’s musical lineup is still very Blues-focused, Saturday’s is more rock-and-roll. On Sunday, the musical acts are a mix of Blues and Country.

“Instead of three days of the same thing ... we all want a little change in life and this is our attempt to try it, from the BBQ to the bands,” Buch said.

Whatever the name, and the food and music offered, gates open at 4:30 p.m. Friday, 3:30 p.m. Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. Sunday at Petersen Park, 4300 Petersen Park Road, McHenry.

A full band schedule and tickets can be found at mrbbb.com. Tickets are $15 a day at the gate, or $10 in advance online. Three day and VIP passes are also available from the website.

Generous sponsorships have covered the festival’s overhead this year, McHenry Area Rotary President Don Tonyan said. Funds raised go to area charities, including past recipients like Kids in Need of McHenry County, the McHenry Riverwalk Shoppes, Rotary Secret Santa, the Family Health Partnership Clinic and Rotary Youth Leadership Awards