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.

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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.

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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+.   

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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.

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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
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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.

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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!

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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!

 

 

New Business in Downtown Waukegan! A Cuban Experience

cuban

Waukegan Main Street caught up with Gary LeVine to find out more….
WMS: So how did this concept come about?
Gary LeVine: It began as a group of friends, Cigar aficionados and boaters. We would meet in the summer at Waukegan Harbor on beautiful Lake Michigan enjoying our cigars while sharing boating stories. Over time, our cigar knowledge and experience grew into rolling cigars for our own enjoyment. We invested in a rolling machine, molds and a cigar press. With the experience of our Cuban friend, Luis Carbonell, we have learned the fine art of creating a fine cigar. We then started creating our own blends.

WMS: What will the experience be like?
Gary LeVine: The Lounge will have cigar smoking . Patrons can walk in and go back to our giant walk-in humidor, and pick out their own cigars. We’ll teach patrons about cigars; how to roll them, the different blends available in A Cuban Theme environment.

WMS: Why Waukegan?
Gary LeVine: We wanted it to be in Waukegan! Most of the partners are life long Waukeganites. We want to watch this downtown area grow. We want to be a part of this Cities growth.

WMS: What differentiates your cigars from other brands?
Gary LeVine: Some are mild, some are stronger. You can customize the cigars to make different sizes, and use different leaves from Brazil, Dominican Republic, Nicaraguan and Connecticut. We’ve gotten rave reviews!

WMS: When will you be opening?
Gary LeVine: We plan to have a soft opening the end of March.

Lounge Hours: 10am-8pm tentatively.
Cigars prices in all ranges.

Your Chance to Support Waukegan Main Street Starts Now; Donate!

We at Waukegan Main Street admit it. Downtowns are not easy to revitalize. But here are some facts about Waukegan’s downtown: three theaters are thriving and more new businesses and restaurants have opened their doors!

The Genesee Theater, Clockwise Theatre, and Three Brothers Theatre produced more shows last year than ever before. Wauk-n-Whiskey has opened its doors on Genesee Street and Rosatti’s is under construction at Grand and Sheridan, joining other popular restaurants and pubs. New businesses like Lake County Tech Hub, Liberty Tax, and Horizon Benefit Services are up and running.

Your vision of a vibrant downtown and lakefront is our purpose. Every day, WMS keeps that vision in the forefront of its plans and activities.

How does the Main Street work? We use the proven ap proaches and tools that every Main Street organization uses. That’s how we can successfully focus on economic development, small business appearance improvement, historic preservation, and promoting the downtown. Here’s just one success story:

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University grads Josh and Caroline Beadle came to Waukegan with the dream of starting a new small theater company. They spotted the vacant space at 115 N. Genesee and hit it off with building owner Juli Weber, also owner of Little Fort Media, right next door.

Before long Three Brothers, a 50-seat black box theater, had become a reality. “For the first couple of years we couldn’t afford a marquee. People couldn’t read the posters we displayed and they couldn’t see into the lobby. In fact, the whole block was dark,” said Caroline.

A Waukegan Main Street SLAP Grant (sign, lighting, and appearance program) was the solution. Josh and Caroline worked with downtown architect firm, Design Studio C, to design and price out a lighted sign. Then they applied to the WMS Design committee for a 50-50 SLAP grant.

“The SLAP grant was incredibly helpful,” said Josh. “Our Three Brothers Theater sign illuminates for quite a distance on Genesee Street. Now we have a clear beacon welcoming all our patrons.”

Owner Juli Weber couldn’t be happier. “The more successful the theater is, the more solid my tenant is. Everyone on the street benefits.”

Main Street organizations know that attractive positional advertising draws business customers and restaurant and theater patrons. That’s why the WMS Economic Development Committee initiated the Downtown Kiosk Program. The first kiosk has been installed at the corner of Genesee and County streets, displaying the map of downtown and promoting downtown businesses and events. WMS plans to install three more kiosks throughout the Main Street district.

kiosk

 

Building partnerships and engaging community stakeholders in the revitalization effort is another economic development tool. For the last two years, we worked with the Waukegan Chamber of Commerce to host the Criterium Bike Race in downtown Waukegan. WMS also partnered with the City to staff a tent for Scoop the Loop and promote monthly ArtWauks.

Year-round, downtown foot traffic has increased because of WMS events like the annual winter Holiday Wauk and the summer Wine and Art Stroll. We also sponsor the annual Lunch with the Mayor. This standing-room-only event provides businesses, nonprofits, and residents and the Mayor a unique way to interact.

WAS 2015

Waukegan’s downtown and lakefront district faces a wide array of challenges and opportunities, and WMS is committed to be part of the solutions and successes.

In the coming year, WMS will focus on bringing more people and businesses to downtown and the lakefront. Communication is key. We have listened to our downtown businesses. Already we are partnering with landlords to clean up vacant storefronts. We will identify funding alternatives to implement beautification improvements. We know that arts and entertainment are a powerful combination for boosting economic development. That means we will partner with community groups to expand the array of cultural and social events in our downtown and lakefront.

Your support will bring even more success. When you donate to Waukegan Main Street, you share in our planning, projects, and successes—now and in the future. Whether you are a Main Street partner or if you’re new to WMS, please make a special year-end contribution. Your gift of $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 or more will go a long way toward supporting our work.

Did you know? Waukegan Main Street is not a city agency. WMS is a volunteer, community-supported organization. The largest portion of our funds come from generous community partners like you.

Please visit www.waukeganmainstreet.org to learn more about what we do. We are working so that you, and all of us, benefit by making positive, tangible differences for our downtown and lakefront.

Thank you!

Megan McKenna de Mejia
President

Arthur Cobb, Jr
Executive Director
www.waukeganmainstreet.org