Windy City Smokeout Thursday: Chicago's premier country music festival kicks off at United Center with Willie Nelson as headliner
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CHICAGO (WLS) — Country music fans are fired up for the return of the Windy City Smokeout!

There’s still a steady line of fans coming in now, and fingers crossed, it looks like we’re hopefully going to have some better weather this year.

The four-day music and barbecue festival features some of the biggest names in country music.

Morgan Wade just performed. Sam Hunt, Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw and the legendary Willie Wilson are also set to perform this year.

RELATED: Willie Nelson, Tim McGraw headline Windy City Smokeout country music festival at United Center

Barbecue pit masters from across the nation are also here with their mouth-watering creations.

The gates opened at 2 p.m. and musical acts will continue throughout the evening.

The big act Thursday is Willie Nelson and Family. They’re scheduled to begin performing at 9 p.m.

Some fans traveled here from all across the country just for this festival.

“We flew out from Oregon. They drove up from Tennessee just to get together and see family and to see great music,” said attendee Steven Neel.

“Willie Nelson, of course, but Zach Bryan’s — the big reason why we came,” said fellow attendee Hunter Houser.

“Turnpike Troubadours, one of our favorite bands. We came from Rhode Island, actually,” added Allison Hawbecker.

“We are smoking some chicken and some tri-tips because we’re visiting from California,” said Burt Bakman, with Slab Barbecue. “This is the barbecue spirit coming to you. You see, it could go anywhere and it’s coming to you right now. So just so you know that’s good luck. That’s a good thing. I’ll take it.”

The premier outdoor country music and BBQ festival in the country will run from August 4-7 at the United Center.

Tickets start at $45, and purchases after July 26th will be available at will call.

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