Shoe Fest: No womp-womp, just mellow tunes and good times

Shoe Fest: No womp-womp, just mellow tunes and good times

By Andrew Howie/For The News-Gazette

Ah, fall. Summer fades away and the world cools down and gets ready for winter. The parties become memories, the light runs away earlier each day.

But in the midst of all the letdown, this weekend's Shoe Fest gives us, in their words "one more dance before summer turns to fall."

Shoe Fest is, quite simply, one of the best weekends of the year.

Just a short drive up to Manteno and Camp Shaw-Waw-Nas-See, it's a smaller event that provides a family friendly alternative to some of the larger festivals.

It's a spotlessly clean, beautiful campground with the gorgeous Rock Creek running right through the middle (returning Shoe Festers will remember the rock formations in the river below the bridge).

I personally always make a point to sit with my feet in the river for about 20 minutes each day; I find it incredibly relaxing, especially while bluegrass is happening on the other side of the trees.

Which brings me to the music: roots, funk, jam, space-rock and bluegrass.

It's all real music played by soulful musicians (this year features two nights of festival creators Old Shoe, the legendary Chicago outfit Mr. Blotto, purveyors of superfunk Ultraviolet Hippopotamus, Kansas trio Split Lip Rayfield, and many more — I could spend an entire article just talking about the bands) without any womp-womp getting in the way.

Also, there are only two stages and no overlapping sets, so you can literally see every show of the weekend. As the crowd migrates between the two stages, you form a connection not only with the bands but with the people all around you.

One of the other things I find very nice about Shoe Fest is that since it's so much smaller and more spread out, if you want or need to get away and just relax for a while, you can retreat back to your tent. It's nice and quiet, and no one will bother you.

Basically, Shoe Fest is the most all-around pleasant experience one could hope for: a laid-back atmosphere with mellow tunes, great food, good people and a clean environment. I'm getting excited just writing this. Hopefully I'll see you there.

If you go

What: Shoe Fest

When: Labor Day weekend, Friday Aug. 29-Sunday Aug. 31.

Where: Camp Shaw-Waw-Nas-See, 6641 North 6000 W Road, Manteno, IL 60950

Tickets: Most sold out; $80 tickets remain. At the gate, tickets are $100. Sunday-only passes are $40.

More information:

Andrew Howie lives in Champaign. He blogs about music at

Topics (1):Music