Join us for our Annual Meeting!

WMS Annual Meeting 2017_trimmed

Join us for our annual meeting on Wednesday, September 27th in the Council Chambers at City Hall!

Along with a buffet lunch, networking time and Board elections, we are hosting keynote speaker Dionne Baux who is the Director of Urban Programs.


As Director of Urban Programs, Dionne leads the initiative to broaden the Center’s offerings and engagement in urban neighborhood commercial districts. Dionne has over a decade of experience in project coordination in the fields of urban economic development and commercial district revitalization. She has extensive expertise engaging community stakeholders, identifying and implementing projects in conjunction with community based organizations, government institutions, and real estate development, as well as supporting capacity building opportunities.

Previously, Dionne served as Senior Program Officer for Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Chicago where she managed economic development initiatives for the Chicago office, developed and led the award winning Business District Leadership program and the nationally recognized Smart Communities demonstration. Dionne also served as a Financial Planning Analyst for the City of Chicago’s Department of Community Development. Dionne holds a master’s degree in public administration from Roosevelt University and a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The annual meeting is $17 for Main Street members and $20 for non-members.  Registration starts at 11am, buffet lunch at 11:15, and presentations at 11:45.

City Hall is located at 100 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.  Metered street parking is available or you may use the parking structure at County and Clayton Streets.

We look forward to having you join us at the meeting and in all our future projects!

September ArtWauk Sizzles in the Main Street District

Downtown Waukegan will be BUSY during September ArtWauk on Saturday, September 16th from 5pm – 10pm!  Along with fantastic art displays in the galleries and shops, four special events are taking place.

First, Mayor Sam Cunningham invites everyone to the first Mayor’s Blues Night, a free Blues show with two stages and six bands from Chicago, the home of the Blues.  The main stage for the event is Stern’s Plaza, 37 S. Genesee Street and the secondary stage is Madison Street Courtyard, 111 N. Genesee Street.  Bring a lawn chair to sit and watch – or get up and move to the groove!

blues night poster 2017


The next special event is Cafe Cultura Arte Summer Nights, a food truck festival with a twist.  Brought to ArtWauk by the hard work of The Chunky Scones, the fest includes music, dancing, food, and art.  Music by (((SONORAMA))).  Food vendors include:  The Chunky SconesSte MartaenBravo Vegan TamalesSimon Brews & Bake, The Tiny Vegan , and  The Bird and the Bear.  Art vendors include:  JAQUI ARTEMosaicoArteMojoOwlBodega 18, and La Carnalita.  Eat, dance, enjoy art, eat, dance, buy art, eat, dance, enjoy!

food truck fest 2017

And, since you’re eating good, think about bringing non-perishable food items for Catholic Charities’ Hunger Auction Food Drive.  The food pantry needs to be stocked and you can help.  Non-perishables and financial donations are greatly appreciated.

hunger action food drive for catholic charities copy


Topping off the “above the bluff” fun is Shredfest 2017, in and around The Burgundy Room at 215 Washington Street.  Shredfest is a 100% DIY celebration of skateboarding art, music, and culture. It is open to skateboarders of all ages, genders, and abilities-EVERYONE is welcome.  If you want to set up a table to sell your crafts, photos, records, skateboards, or whatever DIY stuff you’re into-bring it on! BYO table. This is NOT the kind of event you go to and WATCH – it’s the kind of event you go to to PARTICIPATE! Some come out and skate, cook, rock out, sell stuff, take pictures, show your videos, make new friends, see old ones, and be a part of a truly unique night! The fun kicks off at 5-9pm with Free Skate; Jazz Alley Art Show; BBQ; DJ’s; and PHOTO CONTEST!  It continues with LIVE ROCK from 9pm-2am inside The Burgundy Room for those 21+.   

Shredfest 9 16 17


Now, if all of those activities are not enough to tingle your senses, The Harbor’s Edge and Greater Waukegan Development Coalition are hosting Fiestas at the Harbor at 175 N. Harbor Place directly east of downtown.  Fiestas at the Harbor will feature bands from Mexico, ballet folklorico, and Grito, a re-enactment of the battle for Mexican independence which will take place at 7:45 on Friday, September 15th.  Fiestas at the Harbor runs Friday, September 15th through Sunday, September 17th.

Fiestas at Harbors Edge 9 15 16 17

We would love your feedback on these events as well as any suggestions you may have for new events in our Main Street District.

It’s Our 10th Wine & Art Stroll!

Wine and Art Stroll is one of Waukegan Main Street’s premiere annual events in the downtown Main Street District.  This year’s event is Saturday, August 26th from 5 to 9pm, with registration starting at 4:45 pm in Jack Benny Plaza.  Jack Benny Plaza is located at the southwest corner of Clayton and Genesee Streets, with easy parking on the street (free after 5pm!) and in Parking Lot B to the west of the Plaza.

David Givens and his talented friends return this year to set the mood for the evening and will provide a musical backdrop to the event.

David Givens at WAS
WMS WAS 8 26 17

Ticket prices are $22 for Waukegan Main Street members and $25 for the general public – and you may either buy in advance or walk-up on the day of the event.  You will be required to show an ID at the check-in tables, so be prepared.  What do you get for that ticket price?  You’ll receive a Wine and Art Stroll souvenir glass, a $10 gift certificate to use at any merchant in our Main Street District, a wrist band indicating you’re old enough to legally drink, and a program of participating locations with map.

All participating locations will have tasting beverages  and many supply snacks to complement their wine offerings.  Some stops will may also have beer or non-alcoholic choices and others supply activities for kids … or kids at heart.

The weather forecast says mostly sunny with a high of 75 degrees, perfect for strolling in and out of shops, galleries and restaurants on Genesee Street.

Come out and celebrate 10 years with us!

Three Brothers Theatre Expands

Three Brothers Theatre is busy and booming!  In addition to their original storefront theatre space at 115 N. Genesee Street, they have taken over the former Clockwise Theatre space at 221 N. Genesee Street, about one block north.  The bigger space will allow for more extravagant sets and a larger audience.  Their formula is to stage a production in the original Three Brothers Theatre space one month and the new Three Brothers Theatre Upstage space the next month.

Coming up in August is “Betty’s Summer Vacation”,  an absurd comedy dealing with a lot of serious subjects, according to the Lake County News-Sun’s recent write up.  The play premieres at Three Brothers Theatre Upstage on Friday, August 4th at 8pm.  The show runs Fridays and Saturdays through August 26th.



Three Brothers Theatre is a theatre community founded on inclusion, opportunity, and growth and we will carry that mission throughout all of our theaters or venues.

Waukegan Band is a “Community Treasure”!

WBF from the back

The Waukegan Band is back for its 82nd season of providing free, quality music to Waukegan and the surrounding area.  This season is entitled “Community Treasure” and will feature at least two concerts with special guests.  The first concert of the season featured the Milwaukee Festival Brass, an award-winning brass ensemble using traditional British Brass Band instruments, and had an audience of over 350 people.

The Waukegan Band announced that the US Navy Band Great Lakes will perform in a joint concert with the Waukegan Band on Tuesday, June 27th at 7:30pm at the Stiner Pavilion at Waukegan Beach  The US Navy Band Great Lakes will be directed by Senior Chief Daniel Bethel, US Navy Director while the Waukegan Band will be directed by Dr. Mark A. Taylor. The combined concert will foster relationships between the US Navy Band Great Lakes and the local community.

US Navy Band Great Lakes

The concert theme is “American Masterworks” and will feature music selections by American composers and will include patriotic themes by each band as well as joint selections by both combined bands. Joint selections will include a unique medley of service songs from the various branches of the military, as well as Carmen Dragon’s arrangement of “America the Beautiful” and John Philip Sousa’s “The Glory of the Yankee Navy.”

US Navy Band Great Lakes celebrated 100 years of “Pride in Service” in 2011. From its first performance in July 1911, to Lieutenant Commander John Philip Sousa’s 300-piece Bluejacket Band, to today’s continuing mission of representing Commander, Naval Service Training Command, the band enjoys a rich history of serving the Sailors and citizens of the Midwest with pride and distinction.

With the exception of July 4th, the Waukegan Band presents a FREE outdoor concert every Tuesday at 7:30pm from June 13th through August 8th. All performances are at Stiner Pavilion overlooking the harbor and beach. Many of the concert goers have mentioned the beauty of the site, great music and free parking.

Bring a lawn chair, picnic, friends and family – and relax in comfort on the beautiful lakefront while listening to the music of local Lake County musicians.


The Holidays Hit Downtown Waukegan

During this season of giving we want to GIVE THANKS for all of your continued support of Waukegan Main Street and the businesses in our Main Street Business.  Small Business Saturday on November 26th was a resounding success with great weather, registers ringing and an all-around festive atmosphere including Santa at the Genesee Theatre and the tree lighting in Jack Benny Plaza.  If you didn’t have the opportunity to shop local on Small Business Saturday remember that the boutiques, shops and restaurants remain the mainstays for holiday giving!


You have another big opportunity to enjoy holiday cheer in our Arts & Entertainment District on Saturday, December 17th with the annual HolidayWauk – December ArtWauk!  This fun event  offers free and inexpensive activities for the whole family, so bundle up, bring your camera and head downtown!  Here’s a smattering of the offerings:

We look forward to seeing you downtown and hope your holidays and the New Year are bright and happy!



Volunteer Workshop “Totally Worth It”

Anthony Rubano from Illinois Historic Preservation Agency addresses the Volunteer Workshop attendees.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and Illinois Main Street, along with the Waukegan Main Street and Donna Ann Harris the principal of Heritage Consulting Inc., hosted aVolunteer Recruitment and Retention Strategies” Workshop at Urban Edge in May.

The workshop attracted managers, executive directors and volunteer coordinators from non-profits throughout Lake County, northern Cook County and Kenosha County.  Organizations represented included Waukegan Park District, Habitat for Humanity Lake County, Downtown Kenosha, United Way of Lake County, Lake County Bike Project, GWDC, Words on Wheels, Waukegan Township, Waukegan Arts Council, HACES, City of Evanston, Kenosha Chamber, Waukegan Port District, and several Illinois Main Streets.

Waukegan Mayor Wayne Motley and Volunteer Workshop leader Donna Harris address workshop attendees. The Mayor also participated in the program.

The lively five-hour workshop focused on the basics of working with volunteers, including the “Three R’s of Volunteers” – recruiting, retaining and recognizing them. After an examination of useful techniques for volunteer recruitment, the 40 participants discussed the importance of volunteer orientation, training, and leadership opportunities for any nonprofit organization. “The workshop gave me additional tools and ideas around volunteering and that made coming to the event totally worth it,” said one participant. The day wrapped up with a discussion of volunteer alternatives, including using small task forces to engage more people in an organization’s work.

Workshop highlights included:

  • Learning how to plan the organization’s work using volunteers
  • Discussing recent research about why people volunteer, and the three basic recruitment techniques that can be used in any nonprofit organization
  • Training techniques to assure that you retain your volunteer(s) and manage them well
  • Learning how to emphasize the need for a work plan, volunteer descriptions and high quality supervision to ensure success.

“I am honored to be the ambassador for the Illinois Main Street program,” Lieutenant Governor Sanguinetti said. “This workshop provided valuable information that will help nonprofits grow and succeed while also expanding the Illinois economy. A thriving and innovative nonprofit sector is critical to fulfilling the potential of our great state.”


The State of Illinois has participated in the Main Street program for more than 20 years and currently has 37 designated communities with 1 new community scheduled to be designated in June.  A recent sample of participating organizations disclosed that Illinois Main Street downtowns completed more than 396 construction projects, opened over 149 new businesses and created more than 843 jobs during 2014.

Illinois Main Street is an historic preservation-based economic development program that applies the comprehensive Main Street Four Point Approach® to the revitalization of Illinois’ downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts. Developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Main Street approach focuses on four key tenets: Organization, Design, Promotion, and Economic Restructuring.

Nationally, Main Street communities and their local programs have created nearly 915,000 jobs and represent public and private reinvestment of over $48 billion.

Carry the Special Olympics Torch!

The Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for America to unite and build communities of respect and inclusion – and Waukegan is on the route!  Over the course of 46 days, in a hand-to-hand exchange, people throughout the nation will carry the Special Olympics Flame of Hope across the country and deliver it to Los Angeles for the Special Olympics World Games.

The Unified Relay is a historic event with three simultaneous torch run routes covering all 50 states.  Composed of runners, walkers and bikers – teams will be cheered on by millions of spectators, both locally and virtually, with special guest appearances from major music and sports celebrities, along with Special Olympics athletes, who will also serve as honorary team captains.

Composed of runners, walkers and bikers – teams will be cheered on by millions of spectators, both locally and virtually, with special guest appearances from major music and sports celebrities, along with Special Olympics athletes, who will also serve as honorary team captains. Sign up to carry the torch in Waukegan!

F.I.S.T. Turns Six!

Former Inmates Striving Together (F.I.S.T.) celebrates six years of assisting ex-offenders successfully reintegrate into society.  F.I.S.T. is an organization of formerly incarcerated men and women drawing on experiences and focusing their energy on this task.  Early on, F.I.S.T. worked diligently to secure volunteer positions for their group; now, they are booked well in advance by the organizations and entities such as City of Waukegan, Waukegan Main Street, PADS, and Waukegan Park District.

This year’s celebration, slated for May 3rd, will include comedian Mike Preston and the annual food tasting competition.  The competition allows restaurants to present samples of their menu.  Some of the participating restaurants include Spice, Key Lime Cove, Momcorn, Fong’s, The Lasagna Shop, The Hass Bakery and El Famous Burrito, while others are finalizing their plans.

This year’s Keynote Address will be presented by Chief Jennifer Witherspoon, President of Lake County NAACP.  Featured Speaker, Richard Van Arsdale III, will give his testimony regarding his struggles with re-entry.  State Representative Rita Mayfield is also on the program.  Awards will be presented by Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim and the F.I.S.T. Annual scholarship, sponsored by First Light Bible Study Group at Joy! Lutheran Church, will be presented by Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Allen J. Lynch.

F.I.S.T. has steadily worked to provide what ex-offenders need to support their re-entry. Over the past three years, F.I.S.T. has: opened a Resource Center; provided over 200 winter coats to newly released inmates; mentored its members on life skills and employment; created a 12-step program for ex-offenders; set up S.T.E.E.P. entrepreneur program; established independent housing for men/women; started a thrift store; re-opened the Waukegan Beach Concession stand; and overseen many community service projects. These community service projects have included rehabbing of churches and a parsonage;, building a elementary school recreation site; Waukegan parade and event clean-up; helping to tend the City’s planters in the downtown area with Waukegan Main Street; and assisting PADS.

The celebration will be held at Gurnee Holiday Inn and Conference Center on May 3rd from 2:00 to 5:00 PM and is FREE and open to the public.