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Click here to listen to a mashup of comments from 2017/18 musicians!

Congratulations to our 2018 Winners:

Isabel O. Trio (Grand Champs) & Cooper Run (Runners-Up)!

The Bitter Jester Music Festival (BJMF) is the Midwest's largest professional music competition for rising-star musicians (bands and solo artists alike). BJMF supports and promotes young and emerging talent from across Northern Illinois & Indiana, all across Wisconsin, and into Southern Michigan. The competition gives participating young adults an opportunity to receive professional feedback from working musicians and, most importantly, meet and connect with dozens of other musicians their own age.  Additionally, performers get to work hand-in-hand with Bitter Jester Studio’s eight-time Emmy award winning production team, providing the competitors with a level of media exposure, professional mentorship, and networking that is unmatched by other similar competitions

Currently, the event has four preliminary competitions on consecutive Fridays in June at Port Clinton Square in downtown Highland Park, IL. A winner is selected by qualified judges each Friday to compete in the Grand Finale Concert. After all four preliminary competitions, judges and Bitter Jester staff decide on four "Wild Card" bands that will also compete for the title at a Grand Finale concert on July 4 leading up to the City of Highland Park's fireworks display. Showcase bands are also selected to perform on the big stage prior to the battle on the 4th of July.

The Bitter Jester Music Festival is made possible, in part, by tremendous support from the City of Highland Park, IL. Click here to read what Mayor Rotering has to say about the Bitter Jester Music Fest!

It has become a summer tradition to attend Bitter Jester concerts...
— Nancy Rotering, Mayor


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The Bitter Jester Music Fest is supported, in part, by a grant from YEA! Highland Park.