Chicago’s Windy City Smokeout to Defend ‘ACM Festival of the Year’ Title With Willie Nelson, Turnpike Troubadours, Black’s BBQ & More

by Jim Casey

On May 16, the Academy of Country Music named Chicago’s Windy City Smokeout its 2021 ACM Festival of the Year. And we couldn’t agree more with the pick. The 2021 Windy City Smokeout set a very high bar that ultimately couldn’t be bested (at least in the ACM’s eyes and ears and stomach). Music? Jon Pardi, Dierks Bentley, Darius Rucker, Riley Green, Cody Canada, Randy Rogers, and more. Food? BBQ from some of the best pitmasters in the country, including LeRoy & Lewis BBQ, Pappy’s Smokehouse, and Sugarfire Smoke House, among others. Beer? Shiner, Bud, local favorite Goose Island, and more.

And the 2022 Windy City Smokeout on Aug. 4-7 ain’t resting on its laurels. It’s looking to defend its ACM Festival of the Year title. And we like its chances. This year’s musical lineup will feature Willie Nelson, Turnpike Troubadours, Miranda Lambert, Kip Moore, Zach Bryan, Morgan Wade, Mike & the Moonpies, Tim McGraw, and more.

And the BBQ is going to be bigger than ever, with 24 teams participating in the 9th annual event. New additions include Black’s BBQ (Austin, TX), Wright’s Barbecue (Fayetteville, AR), Smoke Queen Barbecue (Long Beach, CA) and more. Of course, past favorites LeRoy & Lewis, Pappy’s, and Sugarfire will be firing up their smokers, too. And yes, the beer will once again be flowing.

Come for the food and brew, stay for the music. Or vice versa.

Full Music Lineup

  • Aug. 4: Willie Nelson & Family, Turnpike Troubadours, Zach Bryan, Morgan Wade
  • Aug. 5: Tim McGraw, Russell Dickerson, Niko Moon, Tiera Kennedy, Shelby Darrall
  • Aug. 6: Sam Hunt, Jordan Davis, Mackenzie Porter, Lily Rose
  • Aug. 7: Miranda Lambert, Kip Moore, Flatland Cavalry, Mike & the Moonpies

The opportunity to see 89-year-old Willie Nelson should be enough of a reason to buy a ticket to the Windy City Smokeout. But if you still need more convincing, how about watching a rejuvenated Turnpike Troubadours? Or, catch Zach Bryan before he starts selling out arenas. The Thursday lineup on Aug. 4 is a must-see affair.

But you can also bank on Miranda, Kip, Flatland Cavalry, and Mike & the Moonpies closing out the festival with a bang on Sunday, Aug. 7. Tickets for the Windy City Smokeout are still available.

BBQ Masters

All in all, 24 teams will be bringing their smoking skills to Chicago, including: 17th Street BBQ, Against the Grain, Black’s BBQ, Bub City, Green Street Smoked Meats, Hogapalooza, Hoodoo Brown BBQ, Hurtado Barbecue, Leroy & Lewis BBQ, Little Miss BBQ, Lillie’s Q, Loro, Meat Mitch, Pappy’s Smokehouse, Pearl’s Southern Comfort, Sam Jones BBQ, Slab Barbecue, Smoke Queen Barbecue, Smoque, Soul & Smoke, Station One Smokehouse, Sugarfire Smokehouse, Truth BBQ, Ubons BBQ, Wright’s Barbecue.

Lastly, plan on staying fat and happy the entire time you are at the festival.