Downtown Madness

You can’t have “March” without a little “Madness” and in Elgin a little Madness goes a long way. Image

Beginning this Thursday, March 14 the Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA) presents its Elgin-centric epicurean slant on the NCAA’s “Big Dance” in the form of Downtown Madness 2013: Downtown vs. Crosstown. For the third year in a row, the DNA will pit the signature dishes of Elgin eateries against one another in a social media driven, March Madness-style, online bracket tournament where the public chooses the winners round-by-round until a champion is crowned.

In 2011, Elgin Public House, 219 E. Chicago Street (try the Burger Saltimboca – heaven on a bun) took the title over 15 other downtown Elgin eateries in a hotly contested voting battle in the promotion’s inaugural year. Shameless plug warning but DNA also took home some hardware for the success of Downtown Madness as an outstanding Illinois Main Street promotion in the form of a Lt. Governor’s Award for Main Street Revitalization at the 2011 IMS Awards in Galesburg.

Like any good program looking for sustained excellence in the tourney you have to build upon your successes. So last year the DNA expanded the Madness to include Elgin establishments located outside of the downtown Central Business District and the “Crosstown” rivalry fuse was lit. This not only increased the promotion’s scope but its effectiveness as a tool to drive foot traffic to Elgin businesses on both sides of the Fox River. Danny’s Pizza, competing out of the “Crosstown” bracket, was our 2012 Downtown Madness champion. Ironically they find themselves defending their title in the “Downtown” side of the bracket this year after moving their business from the west side to 231 Douglas Avenue in downtown Elgin. FYI – their Sausage and Pepperoni is a formidable (and delectable) competitor.

Again not wanting to rest on our laurels, the DNA is again expanding its recruiting efforts for Downtown Madness in 2013 now pitting 16 Downtown PTP-ers (prime-time-players for those not well versed in the Vitale vernacular) against 16 Crosstown blue chip prospects.

The Elgin Eat 16 punch card returns for its sophomore season with a newly tweaked, tiered prize structure. Those who “Eat 16” (meaning you visit 16 of the 32 participating Downtown Madness establishments and get punches for sampling their signature dish) will be able to lace up their sneakers and literally take your shot at some big prizes at our Madness Trophy Presentation in April. Even those who make the “Elite Ate” (8 total punches – yeah, we totally do clever here at DNA) receive a cool Downtown Madness mini basketball. Hey, it’s better than being an N.I.T. bridesmaid.

The 2013 Downtown Madness brackets will be revealed Thursday, March 14 with the Downtown Madness Selection Show on the DowntownElgin You Tube Channel but here’s an exclusive sneak preview of the match-ups. Shhh! Don’t tell Greg Gumbel or Clark Kellogg:

Opening Round voting in Downtown Madness tips off promptly at 5pm this Thursday and runs through Monday, March 18 at Noon.

So will this year’s Downtown Madness match-ups be “chalk” or will there be a Butler, a Virginia Commonwealth or “insert-your-favorite-Cinderella-team” story (I’ve always been partial to the ’85 Villanova or ’89 Michigan squads – eat your hearts out Ed Pinckney and Rumeal Robinson…which I think they both eventually did) that busts your brackets and secures their “One Shining Moment”?

Only one way to find out: Join the Madness in Elgin now at!