Kids take advantage of the rides at Taste of Joliet. | SUN-TIMES MEDIA FILE
Taste of Joliet
♦ June 29-July 1
♦ Memorial Stadium, 3000 W. Jefferson St., Joliet
♦ Tickets, $10-free kids 12 and under
♦ (815) 741-7275
Updated: June 29, 2012 8:59PM
A weekend of food, fun and music is in store when the Taste of Joliet returns to Memorial Stadium.
This year’s Taste of Joliet will be from noon to midnight Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. It is presented by the Joliet Park District. Headline entertainment includes REO Speedwagon Friday, Josh Turner Saturday and Radio Disney star Shane Harper and country artists Little Big Town on Sunday.
“This is probably one of our strongest lineups that we’ve had so far, so we’re pretty excited about that,” said park district spokesman Brad Staab.
This is the seventh year for the Taste of Joliet. It was held in the 1980s and ‘90s, and was brought back to life in 2006.
“We’ve built it up slowly and have had increased attendance every year,” he said. “Hopefully this will be another good year if the weather cooperates.”
There will be 24 food vendors, he said, most of the local and most of them returning from last year.
“We have Babe’s Hot Dogs, the Joliet Fire Department with their corn, Cemeno’s, S & S Bar B Que ….we try to keep it as local as we can with the food,” he said. “We get a lot of compliments on the variety every year. We have a good formula now.”
There will be a wing eating contest at 5 p.m. Saturday. There will be no bags tournament this year.
In addition to the headline entertainment, there will be local bands performing as well, he said.
“We have one of the best bands in the Chicago area, 7th Heaven,” he said. “They are opening for REO Speedwagon Friday night. They’ve opened for Bon Jovi; they’ve opened for REO Speedwagon in the past. They’ve opened here for Rick Springfield and Pat Benetar.”
They take the stage at 6 p.m. followed by REO at 9 p.m.
“On Sunday, the opening band is called Petty Cash. They cover all Tom Petty and Johnny Cash,” he said. “On Saturday, the opener is Ann Marie. She comes with Josh Turner. Then we have some local bands earlier in the afternoon.”
In addition to Shane Harper at 1 p.m. Sunday, Radio Disney’s Next Big Thing winner Shealeigh, a Bartlett native, performs at 12:30 p.m.
The Kid Zone is back, with inflatables, face painting, balloon animals and fun contests like watermelon eating and Oreo stacking, he said. A carnival runs all weekend as well. Mega passes can be purchased for $50 at the Inwood Athletic Club front desk in advance or at the admission booth. The pass is good for unlimited rides during the entire festival from open to close, he said.
General admission tickets cost $10. There is free admission from noon to 3 p.m. Friday. Seniors cost $5 and kids 12 and under are free accompanied by an adult.
To be in the reserved front section costs $30 Friday and Saturday and $25 Sunday. Tickets are available online as well.
He thinks the combination of the food, carnival and music will make this year’s Taste the best it’s ever been, he said.
“It’s turned into a community gathering place in the summer,” he said. “It’s probably our highlight of the summer. We’re hoping to keep our streak going of providing a great festival and putting the Joliet Park District on the map.”
The festival is sponsored by D’Arcy Motors. More than 100 volunteers help put the Taste on as well, he said. Additionally, there is plenty of free parking available.