Kick off summer fests with Wine on the Fox

Everybody raise your glass — after the seemingly never-ending winter, it’s finally the summer festival season in the suburbs.

Kicking things off is Oswego’s Wine on the Fox event, which showcases wines exclusively from Illinois. The free festival runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 12 to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Oswego Village Hall Plaza.

“When we started it in 2007, there were only a handful of wine festivals in Illinois,” said Michele Brown, Community Relations Manager with the Village of Oswego. “We worked with the IGGVA — the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association – and obviously, Fox Valley Winery, being our hometown winery — and they said May would be a good fit. The weather’s usually cooperative and it anchors the large fall (wine) festival, Vintage Illinois.” (Held in Utica.)

The event had to relocate to Oswego Village Hall plaza last year after a flood in April put Hudson Crossing Park under water. The new locale turned out to be such a good fit, officials made the change permanent this year.

“It actually worked out really well,” she said. “We realized there was so much more space, we have the opportunity for the event to grow, we’re not limited by the trees growing every year. We were starting to get kind of cramped with space in the park. We found this was a great location and we’re excited to be hosting it at the Village Hall Plaza again.”

Music fans will appreciate the musical lineup. Headlining the festival Saturday is Shirley King (B.B. King’s daughter). Popular Chicago-area band Maggie Speaks headlines Sunday.

Music runs throughout the entire festival, she said.

Speaking of wine, they offer an advanced two-day pass for $25, which includes a souvenir wine glass and 20 tasting tickets (10 per day). A single-day entrance is $15 per day for a souvenir wine glass, a wristband and five tasting tickets. Additional tasting tickets cost $1 each. People can purchase wine by the glass, bottle or case. (Glasses must be consumed on site.)

All the wine featured is from 18 Illinois wineries.

“Our focus is heavily on local vintners and grape growers and wine makers,” she said. “That was our only stipulation … it must be an Illinois wintery. We want to highlight shopping locally and utilizing all the great things we have in our area.”

Oswego’s winery, Fox Valley Winery, is of course featured. Others include August Hill, Prairie State, Baxter’s Vineyard, Cooper’s Hawk from Naperville and the Illinois Sparkling Company.

The Fox River Academy of Music and Art will be in hand with some children’s activities to help keep the little ones interested.