Third time’s a charm for Bloody Mary fest
Gabe's Backstage Lounge in Highwood took first place in the 2011 contest. | Lee Litas~Sun-Times Media
3rd Annual Bloody Mary Fest
Everts Park, 130 Highwood Ave, Highwood
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, June 24; Bloody Buddy 5K Challenge at 9 a.m. to aid Huntington’s Disease Society; Bloody Mary competition begins at 2 p.m.
Information at (847) 432-1924 or celebratehighwood.com/bloodymaryfest.html
Updated: June 19, 2012 7:31PM
Every Bloody Mary aficionado remembers where they had their very best Bloody. For me, it was on a layover in Houston airport.
Random? Maybe. But that’s just how we Bloody devotees roll. When it’s good, it’s good and we know it. Something about the perfect amalgamation of tomato to vodka ratio, not too much hickory and just the right amount of heat.
On June 24, Highwood will be holding its 3rd annual Bloody Mary contest and, for this reviewer, it will also be the third time at the judges’ table.
For the judges, our job will once again be to drink (and often eat) through upwards of 40 spicy red Bloody Mary concoctions and their various accoutrements from area restaurants to discern where that elusive “one” might be hiding.
“It’s really catching on. We’re getting (participants) not only from Lake Forest and Highland Park, but also Bannockburn and Long Grove. We’re getting the word out there,” said Highwood’s public relations specialist, Ilyse Strongin-Bombicino.
In fact, vendors from all over the Midwest will bring their best recipes to share and compete in the professional and amateur competition for “Best Bloody Mary in the Midwest.”
The competition includes a “people’s choice award” in addition to formal judging and the winner of Bloody Mary Fest receives a trophy and, most significantly, bragging rights for the year.
This year also marks the 125th anniversary of Highwood. The town formed by Fort Sheridan some 24 miles north of Chicago’s Loop once held the Guinness World Record for most bars per square mile.
Nowadays, “what used to be a very old, Italian community is getting a lot of young energy coming in here so there is a great mix of young and old,” said Anne Marrin, assistant city manager at City of Highwood.
Despite its estimated only 5,000 residents, Highwood is known as a destination for its gourmet restaurants, eclectic bars, nightlife and shopping.
“People turn to Highwood as a destination to eat, to shop, for entertainment, music and for the bars. They come with their families and they can stay for the day and the evening,” said Strongin-Bombicino.
This year, in addition to the Bloody Mary competition, the event will include a 5K Challenge, the “Bloody Buddy,” benefiting the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. The 5K will include 100 core exercises, the U.S. Army Major General Jimmie J. Wells Challenge and a run on mixed terrain through Highwood and Fort Sheridan.
Last year’s fest drew 5,000 Bloody enthusiasts eager to sample countless variations of the cocktail.
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