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Strolling Along at Wine and Art Stroll

Our last big event of the summer was Saturday July 26th in Downtown Waukegan! Our Promotions Committee and staff worked diligently to secure participating locations, volunteers , a band to perform at the College of Lake County Lakeshore Campus Courtyard on Genesee and Madison, and sponsors.  Many thanks to North Shore Gas, Vista Health System and Consumers Credit Union for sponsoring our seventh annual Wine and Art Stroll.

Nearly 250 people enjoyed the warm summer evening and walking to and through the galleries, shops and restaurants.  ”What a nice success, topping off a month of events in our downtown,” said Jane Ferry, Executive Director of Waukegan Main Street. “We had different crowds for each event, although it was fun to see the familiar faces from one event to the next. We’ve also been very lucky with the weather from fireworks on the 4th through to Wine and Art Stroll on the 26th.”

In addition to showcasing artwork by dozens of local artists, the festival this year took on new dimensions with an exciting performance by an up-and-coming Afro-Latin musical group plus al fresco dining. Visitors equipped with souvenir wine glasses strolled through the Waukegan Arts & Entertainment District, and sampled a variety of wines at more than 20 participating specialty shops, galleries and restaurants including new businesses. As they strolled, art aficionados met featured artists, perused popup art exhibits, enjoedy live music and purchased unique treasures to take home.

“Wine & Art Stroll brings an eclectic crowd to downtown Waukegan—from college students to retirees, people who treasure traditional art and those who appreciate the avant garde,” said Ferry. “Whether people were looking for a date night or a girls’ night out, they really enjoyed getting to know the artists and our downtown merchants in a relaxed way.”

Not to be missed was the dynamic concert by

“We already have ideas to make next year even more enticing!”

Criterium Sped Through Downtown

Did you come downtown on Friday July 18th? No?  You missed first-of-its-kind-in-Waukegan  fast-paced, high energy event. Intelligentsia Cup Prairie State Cycling Series kicked off an eight city tour in the Chicagoland area with the inaugural Vista Health System Waukegan Criterium.  Prairie State hit the streets early and the racers kept up the pace until dusk.  The Criterium, a bike race held on a short course usually less than one mile, was hosted by City of Waukegan Chamber of Commerce and Waukegan Main Street with the start/finish line and stage right on Genesee Street.

Racers and volunteers registered at the Genesee Theatre starting at 8:30am. Nine different race categories entertained spectators from 10:50am, with the start of Mens Cat 5 (amateur) race, through to the Kids’ Race then onto the Men’s Professionals race which ended shortly after 8pm.  Race length varied for the different levels and were determined by total time and laps, with remaining laps calculated as the race progresses.  One of the professional women racers said their speed tops 28 miles per hour and that the professional men can top 40 mph.  We timed one lap and it was less than one minute in the professional races.

We are grateful that a number of businesses sponsored the race, including North Shore Printers, a family-owned business that has been in the downtown area for over 80 years. On a side note, North Shore Printers and the Callahan Family are proud to be supporters of and partners with World Bicycle Relief for the past five years.

Over 150 volunteers filled a variety of positions around the course – Genesee Street to Clayton to Sheridan to Water and back to Genesee – to ensure the safety of the cyclists, cars and pedestrians.  Many were flaggers, indicating that the pace car and racers would be passing their location and letting people know it was not safe to cross streets.  Members of Citizens Police Academy and cadets from Waukegan High School JROTC joined volunteers from the Chamber and Main Street.  We cannot thank all the volunteers enough.

In addition to the race, Parking D was the site of a Block Party. Food vendors, non-profits and merchants were available for the crowd and local band, Angry Squirrels, provided music starting at 7pm.  Luckily the weather was wonderful and a lot of people ate dinner at the Block Party, taking advantage of the great view of one of the big ‘turns’.

If you did not have the opportunity to enjoy the Criterium or Block Party this year, we hope to host it again next year.  And even if you don’t think you’d like watching bike racing, give it a try … it is awesome, in the truest sense of the word.

Vista Health System Waukegan Criterium Hits the Streets Friday!

The inaugural Vista Health System Waukegan Criterium hits the streets of downtown Waukegan Friday, July 18th with multiple amateur bicycle racing categories followed by professional men’s and women’s racing and a popular kids’ race in the early evening.  The pace car leading the racers on the course will be provided by Classic Scion of Waukegan. Vista Health System is both the title sponsor and health care partner for the event.

“The Criterium and Block Party are a great way for the City to bring together residents, businesses, visitors and the bicycle racing community in a summer festival setting,” said Ron Oesterlein, Executive Director of City of Waukegan Chamber of Commerce.
The Criterium is a short course bike race with the planned route of Genesee Street north to Clayton Street, east to Sheridan Road, south to Water Street and back north on Genesee.  Men’s  and women’s categories ranging from amateur and professional to masters will take place all day, from 10:50am to 8:00pm. One afternoon highlight will be informal children’s races that Oesterlein called “almost the best part of the whole event,” with features like 4- and 5-year-olds doing a 200-yard sprint and 10- and 11-year-olds completing a single circuit.

The Downtown Summer Block Party will take place at the southwest corner of Sheridan Road and Clayton Street from 3:00pm to 11:00pm. “The Block Party is located inside the race course so people can easily watch the fast-paced race while enjoying the festivities,” said Jane Ferry, Executive Director of Waukegan Main Street.  “The Block Party will have family-friendly activities, food, and vendors, with local band, Angry Squirrels, taking the stage at 7:00pm.”

All related fun aside organizers say the big draw will be the sight of professional athletes whipping through the downtown area at speeds that would be illegal for a four-wheeled vehicle.

“It’s very explosive, very exciting,” Oesterlein said. “People are always amazed when they come and watch it for the first time. It’s a really high-energy experience, and really one of the most spectator-friendly sports there is, partly because the racers keep coming by every minute.”

For more information on the Vista Health System Waukegan Criterium, visit www.waukeganchamber.org/bike-race.html

Media Contact: Ron Oesterlein, (847) 623-6800, ron@cw-cc.org

Related links:  www.waukeganchamber.org, www.prairiestatecyclingseries.com/schedule/waukegan.php,