LINCOLN PARK — A pair of fundraisers helps launch the newly renovated Theater on the Lake this weekend.
The fifth Bloody Mary Fest competition kicks off October at 11 a.m. Sunday with 10 bars and restaurants vying for best bloody Mary in town, while Theater on the Lake house chef Cleetus Friedman offers a preview of his upcoming brunch menu.
At 6:30 p.m. Saturday, the eighth annual Evening of Hearts and Hugs raises money to support families facing epilepsy and to celebrate the life of Danny Stanton, a 4-year-old Chicago boy who died in 2009 after a seizure in his sleep from Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy, or SUDEP. The sit-down dinner gala inside the venue will cost $150, $175 at the door if not sold out.
But the Bloody Mary Fest figures to be the bigger, more raucous event, in what is also a fundraiser for K94 Keeps Chicago Dog Rescue. It runs until 4 p.m., and from 1-2 p.m. foster dogs needing permanent homes will be on the lawn outside the theater.
General-admission tickets are $60, with a VIP package available for $80 that gets you in at 10 a.m. for an expanded brunch menu including Friedman's own Cleetus Heatus Bloody Mary Mix.
The 10 competitors for best bloody Mary are:
• Saint Lou's Assembly
• Kroll's South Loop
• Coda Di Volpe
• Rhyme or Reason
• Centennial Crafted Beer
• Lillie's Q
• PR Italian Bistro
• The Madison Bar
• Flo Cafe
• Theory Chicago
The four previous winners have been the Dawson, Fat Cat, Eleven City Diner and Lucky's Lounge.
The event is also going to put Theater on the Lake through the paces with live music onstage, games outside on the lawn and an artisan market on the veranda.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined in the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony for the renovated Theater on the Lake earlier this month. The $7 million rehab project converted the open-air theater and former sanitarium into a year-round theater with 330 seats, while adding a restaurant, bar and patio with a lakefront view of the city skyline.
It expects to be open to the public this fall and, obviously, is already booking private events.