ELMHURST – The Elmhurst City Centre's fifth annual Rock the Block Party will highlight local businesses and restaurants while providing entertainment for the massive crowds that come.
"It's truly a kind of neighborhood event," said Christy Sopko, events coordinator for the Elmhurst City Centre.
Sopko, who lives and works in Elmhurst, looks at the event as a town reunion, as people who attend the event are likely to see their neighbors and friends while there. She said the event has been well supported by local businesses and city officials and staff, as seen by their attendance at the event.
Last year's event drew about 20,000 attendees over the course of the two days, and event organizers expect similar numbers this year, Sopko said. The event will be Sept. 7 and 8 at York and Schiller streets in downtown Elmhurst.
Musicians and cover bands including Sixteen Candles, American English and Wedding Banned will take the stage this year to entertain attendees as they partake in food from local vendors and beverages from event bars.
On Sept. 8, children can enjoy free activities such as face-painting, arts and crafts, and Baggo.
Sopko said event organizers have made additions to the assortment of alcoholic beverages this year with the inclusion of White Claw spiked seltzer, following the suggestion of their distributor, and sangria, as they saw that was popular at other summer festivals they have attended.
The event has a record 19 restaurants participating in the event this year, Sopko said.
"Our restaurants do a great job of really showcasing their best tastes. ... It's fun to get out and have a taste of all the bests that everybody offers," she said.
Two newcomers to the scene this year are Cupcakes for Courage and Elmhurst Brewing Co.
Laura Pekarik, owner and operator of Cupcakes for Courage, said she wanted her business to participate in Rock the Block Party this year to be more of a part of the community, reach new clientele and provide cupcakes, which she hasn't seen at the event when she has attended herself in previous years.
Cupcakes for Courage intends to provide several different flavors of cupcakes on both days of the event for four tickets per cupcake. Those flavors will include chocolate peanut butter, gluten-free carrot, funfetti "survivor," and cookies and cream, she said.
Frazer Donaldson, an owner of Elmhurst Brewing Co., which opened in February, said he is excited to showcase an item the brewpub team will debut at the event: twice-cooked ribs.
Jason Kurosaki, head chef at the microbrewery, said he and his sous chef, Phil Bruschuk, will serve the ribs, which are cooked in pork fat and tossed in a spicy sauce, and fried chicken sliders, which will feature house-made pickled celery, Buffalo sauce and green goddess dressing, which is like an herbal ranch dressing.
Sopko said event organizers have been closely watching weather forecasts in preparation for the event, though it will go on rain or shine, and they will be able to temporarily shut down the event in the case of severe weather since it is in the street rather than a grassy field.
"Hopefully it'll be more shine than rain. .... We're planning for everything but hoping for the best," she said.
Sopko encouraged attendees to make use of two free Explore Elmhurst trolleys operating on routes during the event that will bring them from the outskirts of downtown Elmhurst to two stops near the event. There also are parking maps available at elmhurstcitycentre.com.
If you go
WHAT: Rock the Block Party 2018
WHEN: 4 to 11 p.m. Sept. 7, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 8
WHERE: York and Schiller streets, Elmhurst