Mark your calendar: Fall beer and wine festivals

Fall is shaping up to be an action-packed and stirring season, especially with the plethora of beer and wine festivals on the docket.

Ravinia in Highland Park has always been known for their fabulous music and relaxing lawn seating and on September 20, they will be known for something else: the marriage of music and food. Food Network in Concert combines famed stars, from best-selling epicurean Food Network Magazine, with rock and roll artists. The festival will feature music from Phillip Phillips, singer/guitarist and American Idol Season 11 winner, and the event headliner, John Mayer, a Grammy Award winning artist.

“It will be a full day of incredible live music and spectacular food,” said Peggy Mansfield, associate publisher, integrated marketing, Food Network Magazine. “There will be multiple music stages, lively cooking demos, wine and food tastings, talent meet-and-greet opportunities and much more. Guests will have the opportunity to experience a variety of unique food offerings throughout the day through an array of ticket packages.”

Participants will benefit from a selection of exclusive culinary events hosted by notorious Food Network stars — Sunny Anderson, Anne Burrell, Jose Garces, Alex Guarnaschelli, Jeff Mauro, Marc Murphy and Geoffrey Zakarian, as well as 50 of the country’s most esteemed and lauded chefs — that will highlight some of the best BBQ, craft beers, cocktails, wines, sandwiches, desserts and more.

“Chefs have become ‘rock stars’ in their own right through presence in our magazine and via our network,” said Mansfield. “We thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to bring both culinary talent and incredible musicians together for Food Network in Concert at Ravinia, which will be one unforgettable day of music, food, wine and other one-of-a-kind experiences. Ticket prices for admission to Food Network in Concert have something for everyone, whether you want the traditional Ravinia lawn experience or exclusive 4-course dinners from a celebrity chef, we have it all.”

Mainstreet Libertyville also hosts an extraordinary festival: MainStreet Oktoberfest. On September 20, visitors will rock out to local bands, eat delicious food and sample beer under the big top on Church Street, rain or shine. Originally introduced in 1993 as a spring street dance, this family-friendly fundraising event has evolved into a lively affair, complete with an Oompah band, German beer and food. The community will get together to celebrate the charming downtown and support the MainStreet organization.

“In honor of MainStreet’s 25th anniversary, during this year’s event tickets will be sold for a downtown Libertyville raffle basket containing certificates and items from participating merchants worth over $2000,” said Pam Hume, executive director, MainStreet Libertyville. “The lucky winner will be announced that night.”

MainStreet board chairman, Jeff Lovinger, said, “Starting in September, it’s amazing how many people around town talk about Oktoberfest as if it’s a reunion of sorts. It’s the sort of community spirit and support of our organization that typifies Libertyville residents.”

On November 1, pop on over to Mundelein to celebrate DiCarlo’s Fall Wine, Food and Craft Beer Festival.

“We will once again showcase over 250 fine wines and dozens upon dozens of craft beers. Numerous local restaurants will feature their tasty fare,” said Gints Brencis, CSW director of fine wines, DiCarlo Fine Wines & Spirits. “The Festival will be held in the Grand Ballroom of the Doubletree Hotel and it promises to be another memorable sensory and gustatory experience.”

A block of rooms is reserved at the Doubletree Hotel, which includes a complimentary tasteful buffet breakfast at Karma Restaurant. Mention the event when making your reservation in order to get a special room rate.

“This festival is attended by hundreds of wine and beer enthusiasts alike,” said Brencis. “The selection of wines is very diverse with numerous countries represented. All price points are represented and attendees are rewarded with the lowest prices of the year. The artisanal gourmet samples provided by local restaurants are equally diverse and complement the wines wonderfully.”

Other fun fall beer and wine festivals include the Wine and Craft Beer Tasting event at Waukegan Yacht Club, hosted by the Greater Waukegan Development Coalition, which includes samples from more than 60 distilled spirits and craft beers. Artisan cheeses, smoked salmon, mini gourmet sandwiches, spring rolls, crab cakes, antipasto tray, fruit, grilled vegetables and other tasty treats will keep your belly full. Antioch will host the Beer and BBQ Walk, which will enable participants to enjoy the downtown streets while eating smoky BBQ and drinking craft beers. Finally, Fox Lake will host Fox Lake Oktoberfest Beer and Wine Walk, an adult-only festival that includes live entertainment, food and beer, all under a tent at the park.

“The Fox Lake Area Chamber will be having their Annual Oktoberfest Beer & Wine Walk on October 11,” said Linnea Pioro, executive director, Fox Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “It is a great day to come out with friends and family and enjoy some great wine and beer tastings. Our business members serve hors d’oeuvres and offer giveaways and each participant receives a complimentary wine glass and bottle of wine or beer.”

Eat, drink and be merry.