In 2010, the city of Highwood threw an impromptu Bloody Mary Festival on a Wednesday night in conjunction with its regular farmers market. After that last minute festival drew about 3,000 people, event organizers realized they might be on to something. This year, city officials moved the event to Sunday and drew an estimated 5,000.
The 2nd Annual Bloody Mary Festival featured mostly local vendors from Highwood, but also brought in Bloody Mary distributors from as far away as Indianapolis.
"I was very impressed that Highwood does such a great job of organizing so many Bloody Mary producers and not just from Highwood," said Steve Dolinsky, a celebrity judge who hosts WLS-TV's Hungry Hound show. "There's about 20 entries this year and they're all pretty good. There's a lot of variation, but they did a good job of bringing in people who provide high quality Bloody Marys."
Dolinsky was one member of a six person celebrity panel that deemed who would win the honor of "Best Bloody Mary in the Midwest." Festival goers also voted for their favorite drinks to decide who would win the "People's Choice Award." Last year, the Silver Dollar Tavern took home both distinctions. To see if they could defend their title, click on the video link above.
This weekend's event is part of a series of festivals that the city is hosting throughout the year. They are also planning their first annual Garlic Fest on August 17th and will continue the tradition of the Great Highwood Pumpkin Fest in October.
"Our whole goal with events like this is to bring people back to Highwood," Highwood Mayor Charlie Pecaro said. "We want people to see the charm and the entrepreneurship that our city offers. It's all about bringing people back to Highwood."