On Saturday, July 16, my hometown of Normal, Illinois had a beer and jazz festival in the uptown centre hosted by Medici, a local American style restaurant and pub. I love Medici, and is a great place to go. It is one of my favourite places to go after work and enjoy a pint from a large selection of beer on draft, and should you find yourself here, I highly recommend that you come here.
The festival lasted from around 4:00 PM until 10:00 PM. It cost $5 to get in, and tickets to get beer cost $0.50. The proceeds went to the local Children’s Discovery Museum. The street in front of Medici was blocked off for the entire block, with the stage on the west end. In the festival there were six beer booths each with roughly six beers each of varying beer styles. Each beer was usually 2 or 3 tickets worth, some being 6 tickets, and you got a 4 ounce pour.
Meanwhile, as everyone was enjoying their beers, the jazz bands were on stage playing. With the music in the background, you get to mingle with friends or other beer drinkers.
Also, the neighbouring shops, both on the block and in the blocks surrounding, kept their doors open. Stave Wine Bar, who also had their own booth at this festival and is across the street from Medici, offered pints of locally brewed beer, such as White Oak Brewing and DESTIHL Brewing, plus a wide variety (as the name of the bar suggests) of wine and hor d’oeuvres. During the festival, I spent a lot of my time here, enjoying the local beer. Also, the Rock, a great spot for lunch, offers tasty Mediterranean food. Next door to them is Coffee Hound coffee shop. While I rarely patron this one, they have a store front in Downtown Bloomington1, a couple blocks from my day job, that I patron frequently.
This was a festival that had many things I loved: it was in my proverbial backyard, craft beer abound, and live music, especially jazz. Yet, I did not find it to live up to its potential. Do not get me wrong, I still enjoyed it, and I recommend it for next year. The bands they got were not the best. Not bad, per se, but not necessarily good either. Also, after it picked up, it got very crowded. To get to the beer stations, you had to push your way through a crowd that was shoulder-to-shoulder, then get back to the sidewalk as it was too crowded to drink on the street, and pray that you do not spill the 4 ounces before you get there. I hope they get the permissions to expand the festival area for next year.
As the evening was waning down, I took a quick walk east, past the Uptown Circle, and went to another of my top favourite bars and pubs in town: Maggie Miley’s. Best place in town for a Guinness, and the among the best Irish whiskey selection in town.
Normal is a pretty chill town, especially during the summer when the university students are gone, but with State Farm headquartered here, it is still stacked with things to do all year round. If you are here on business or visiting family/friend at school, there is always a pint to be poured, a festival to go to on a weekend spring through fall, and somewhere a live band is playing. Also, if you live in the Central Illinois area, or happen to be in the area next summer, I still recommend coming for the next Beer and Jazz festival. There is a lot more I can show about Bloomington-Normal, and more will come. Stay tuned for more!
1. Bloomington and Normal are two different cities that are conjoined, Normal in the north, Bloomington mostly to the south. Bloomington is much bigger and is where I work. Normal, being a college town, offers more for people my age and is where I live.