Burr Ridge’s Concerts on the Green kicks off with big attendance, expanded offerings

Burr Ridge’s Concerts on the Green kicks off with big attendance, expanded offerings

On Thursday summer kicked off in Burr Ridge with the debut of the Village’s weekly free music series, Concerts on the Green.

The events typically draw hundreds every Thursday evening for music, relaxed picnics, opportunities to see neighbors, and, this year, a marketplace and some food tents. For the first time, concert-goers could buy a cold beer or glass of wine, fresh-made barbecue sandwiches, a lemon ice, or a slice of pizza if they didn’t feel like bringing a cooler.

Still, at least at this summer’s inauguration, the biggest draw was the music, with ‘70s cover band Libido Funk Circus taking the stage.

Buddy the dog sits with owner Bonnie Wydra, both longtime fans of live music, on Thursday, June 6.

“This is such a good band,” said Bonnie Wydra. Wydra, and her husband Tom, said they’re regular outdoor concertgoers from Tinley Park and they spend their summer visiting a variety of shows in the region, but this band, and the Burr Ridge scene, were among their favorites. They’d been to Burr Ridge’s Concerts on the Green in the past and they were happy to have the additional food and drink options and hope Village organizers add more to the mix.

“One of the venues we go to has a margarita truck and that’s always got a line,” Bonnie laughed.

Eudell Watts V serves up a barbecue sandwich at the Old Arthur’s food tent. (Jesse Wright for the Pioneer Press)

“It would be great to have a food truck or a couple even,” added Tom.

Claire Nass, the village’s management analyst who organized this year’s schedule, said adding more to the mix is all part of the process—and that need inspired this year’s growth.

“We found that our patrons wanted more activity during the concerts, so we wanted to support our chamber of commerce and that’s why they’re here selling alcohol and that’s why we supported our artisan’s market,” she said. “But we would like to expand it into Taste of Burr Ridge and into Deck the Green and into our other events, and we want to support more of our local business.”

From left, Maddie Corella and Max Mason, both 7, balance eggs as part of a race while nearby their parents enjoy the cool summer evening in Burr Ridge. (Jesse Wright for the Pioneer Press)

She said the food anchors are Stix and Stones, the popular pizza place at the Village Square, and Arthur’s Barbecue, an Illinois-based barbecue sauce and rub purveyor that also offers pit-smoked meats at events.

“They will be with us every Thursday and our artisans will be rotating in and out,” Nass said.

The artisan’s market takes advantage of the newly-developed walking space at the Village Center, which had been a street. Nass said the vendors tend to be craftspeople who offer boutique specialty products not typically found in stores.

Still, the backbone of the event is the social draw, with most of the crowd on the grassy lawn on camp chairs, coolers, and charcuterie board nearby, surrounded by friends or family.

“I just wanted to hang out with the community, because this really brings the community together,” said Brad Pavone, an LA transplant relatively new to Burr Ridge attending his inaugural concert event.

This year is a good year to get into the tradition, Nass said, with each event offering more different attractions than the last concert. This summer, the Village is planning a centennial celebration of Route 66 at the June 27 concert event that could be among the largest this season.

“We will have Uncle Sam, the stilt walker, jugglers, and the band Mr. Blotto,” Nass said. “It’s a pretty big deal band for this kind of venue.”

Filled to capacity, fans of live music sit on the village green for the Concerts on the Green Thursday. (Jesse Wright for the Pioneer Press)

Mr. Blotto, out of Chicago, has been around since the 1990s and they are a jam band specializing in Southern rock, country rock, and the like. With bigger bands, Nass said the aim is to attract their fans to Burr Ridge — possibly for the first time — to put the village on the map as a destination for food, shopping, and family fun, in addition to continuing to provide quality entertainment to the community and longtime supporters. Given, Nass said, that the first event brought out chairs and picnic setups hours before the band hit its first chords, she believes the series will hit its mark.

“We’re really excited to have this summer concert market and were pleased were able to offer this to the community,” she said.

Jesse Wright is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.