Spot Check: What's it Take to Rock Winnetka?

Tats and piercings, polos and khakis, studded boots and flip flops. Hipsters, ex-hippies, suits, and suburbanites. Welcome to 60093, Winnetka Music Festival-style.

What started out last Friday evening as two headliners and a handful of food and drink stop-offs, was rinsed and repeated Saturday with a somewhat smaller, younger daytime crowd that amped up as the sun went down. Headcount: 10,000+

Seventeen acts and 18 local artists including headliners and buskers on four main stages and dozens of intimate venues delivered rock, jazz, country, and “light” rap hand-picked for NorthShore headsets. 

During the 2-day festival, two-year-olds, thirty-somethings and people who remember Woodstock helped Winnetka’s restaurants break their numbers and make new friends. 

No hiccups? No way, but for this year, litter and behavior was suburban-civilized. Skeptics were deafeningly silenced. High-fives. Back slaps. Victory laps.

Festival 1.0: The Secret Sauce

So what did it take to pull off the Feel Good Event of the Year?

  • For Val Haller, a key organizer, founder and CEO of Valslist, and longtime Winnetka resident, her dream of a suburban Lollapalooza took a “highly curated, handpicked lineup” aimed straight at the tastes of the North Shore. “Every single band is one of my top bands and I knew they would appeal to a wide age range…families and grandparents and everyone in between…"
  • Scott Myers, Village Trustee and key organizer’s recipe for success: “To one exciting vision, add 12 high-energy organizers, dozens of committed Village staff members, 17 outstanding professional music groups, 18 highly talented local artists, more than 200 volunteers, 7,000+ hours of planning and organizing, 2 days of beautiful weather, and 1 special lakefront community.  Mix for 18 months and serve.”
  • For Terry Dason, Executive Director, Winnetka-Northfield Chamber of Commerce,“15 months of planning, inviting businesses to learn about the music festival in the early spring, and personal stop-in conversation,” delivered an event where "residents and businesses got to have fun and deepen their engagement and pride in the community.” Next year? “Lots of new ideas to pull in the businesses.”
  • Marc Hornstein, Interim Chief of Police, realized the “unique opportunity for our officers to interact positively with the community” and made that happen with “several months of planning and collaboration with music festival volunteers, other village departments, and stake holders.”
  • Alan Berkowsky, Winnetka Fire Chief, defined success times two: "The training and direction prior to the event made sure both Festival Staff and Public Safety Personnel were on the same page when dealing with an emergency or incident”; and “ramping up staffing to provide for both the Festival and the rest of our residents and businesses.”
  • Steve Saunders, Director of Public Works, downplaying his role as Cattle-Herder-in-Chief, credited “the many planners, staff, and volunteers" with a "terrific job. It is such a pleasure when everyone is working hard toward the same goal and it was a delight for the Public Works team to be a part of such a joyful and well-received event!”
  • Brian Keys, Director of Water and Electric, claimed that while water and electric kept the lights on and the music going, "what impressed me the most was the extraordinary level of organization from the volunteers. No one was standing around waiting for orders – everybody knew what they were doing… I was really impressed.” And speaking of Volunteers…
  • Marcia Sutter, Festival Volunteer Coordinator, believes “It takes a village! And a wonderful working relationship between a core group of organizers, hundreds of citizen volunteers, the many local organizations, and our wonderful village employees. People who answered the call and gave their time and energy.”
  • Jetta Boschen, PR Chair, got the word out early and often with a “a strategic grassroots campaign across all media platforms.” She plans “to continue our efforts as breaking news occurs in anticipation of 2018!” and invites everybody to visit the Festival's website to leave comments and sign up for next year’s news.

Oh, and It didn’t hurt that WXRT featured the Festival in their 93 Days of Summer Calendar,  and that for more than 10 years, Valslist has been building a sweet reputation for promoting and supporting emerging artists. Cred counts.

Rock On, Winnetka!

If next year can’t come soon enough, keep the feel-good going with stuff like this:

...or just hangin’ at one of our great eateries, bocce in Hubbard Woods Park, or meeting friends at the dog beach. See ya!