Come to Lake Villa’s Harbor Brewing for free food, music

Harbor Brewing Company opened up a new taproom in Lake Villa this January. Now it’s ready to invite everyone over for a barbecue.

The Harbor Brewing Backyard Bash is a three-day music and food festival held Aug. 26-28 outside the taproom, featuring live music, food vendors, artisan booths and, of course, plenty of beer on tap.

“For us, this is a way to have a good time and get our name out there to people in the area that haven’t come in to visit us yet,” said Alyssa Curry, co-owner of the taproom and one of the festival’s organizers. “It’s totally free and open to anyone. We aren’t charging anything for the food or craft vendors. We just want a space for people to enjoy themselves and hear some great music.”

The music kicks off on Friday night with a performance by James & Friends at 7 p.m., featuring acoustic guitarist and singer James Bruebach.

“We’ve had James do some solo shows, and he’s a good friend of the brewery,” Curry said. “The band does a little bit of everything, but a lot of classic and alternative rock. It’s the type of music that appeals to everyone.”

Friday’s food vendors include Sweet Stop, a Winthrop Harbor restaurant that will bring desserts as well as dinner entrees. Lucky’s Spitfire, which features Mediterranean bowls and authentic Mexican cuisine, will be cooking up meals all three days of the festival.

On Saturday, the music begins at noon with Billy Garner, a singer, guitarist and harmonica player who performs country and classic rock hits. He’s followed by LJT and the Leftovers — an indie rock/blues band — at 3 p.m.

The final act of the day will be Lunar Ticks, which start at 7 p.m. This Chicago-based jam band is best described as an indie rock/alternative sound, influenced by rock bands like Wilco, The Flaming Lips and Arcade Fire, with exploratory improvisations in the vein of The Grateful Dead and Phish.

Saturday’s food includes barbecue in addition to selections from The Code, a restaurant just down the street in Lake Villa.

On Sunday, Mykal Baas starts the music at noon, followed by ACME Band at 4 p.m. Food vendors will include The Code, Sweet Spot and Lucky’s Spitfire.

“We’ve got a nice mix of people who’ve played with us before and bigger names who we’re seeing for the first time,” Curry said.

In addition to the music, about a dozen craft vendors will be on hand each day.

“We’ve got quite a variety of mostly local artisans and businesses,” Curry said. “We’ll also have some activities for the kids, like face-painting and balloons. We are dog-friendly and kid-friendly. We want this to be a place people feel comfortable dropping by with their whole family.”

And, of course, beer lovers will have plenty of options to choose from throughout the weekend. In addition to beer brewers on-site, other local breweries also have featured selections regularly at Harbor Brewing.

“We change the beer list daily,” Curry said. “We try to keep some of our most popular beers on tap … but we always have something new to try, whether made here or somewhere else nearby. No matter what you like, we’ll have something for everyone.”

While music is regularly performed at the tap house, this is the first large-scale event held at the new venue.

“We really hope this becomes an annual event,” Curry said. “It’s a great space to hear musicians, and we’re hoping to do more things like this in the future. But right now we’re just looking forward to meeting more people and letting them see what we’ve done with the space.”

Harbor Brewing Backyard Bash

When: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 26; noon to midnight Aug. 27; noon to 7 p.m. Aug. 28

Where: Harbor Brewing Company, 136 Cedar Ave., Lake Villa

Tickets: Free admission


Jeff Banowetz is a freelance reporter for the News-Sun.

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