For 14 years at the intersection of Higgins Road and Route 59,  Hoffman Estates was home to a wonderful outdoor concert venue called Poplar Creek.  The covered pavilion had reserved seating for 7000 and the grassy slope could accomodate 13,000 more.

Various acts such as Stevie Nicks, Carly Simon, Barry Manilow, The Beach Boys and REO Speedwagon performed through the years.  I, personally, saw Anne Murray and Julie Andrews.  Who did you see before the theater closed in 1994?  And who was the first act?  Any guesses?   And, no, it’s not Willie Nelson!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library


  1. Bob Dohn Says:

    I saw James Taylor, Whitney Huston, Christopher Cross (remember him?) and two of my kids’ high school gradutations at Poplar Creek.

    Was the first performer Kenny Rogers?

  2. Larry Rowan Says:

    I would say it was John Denver, but I do remember seeing Willy there later!

  3. MJ Follert Says:

    I saw James Taylor, Elton John, Jimmy Buffet and the Beach Boys at Poplar Creek. It was so much fun. Was the first performer County Joe and the Fish?

  4. Pat Barch Says:

    John Denver was the first performer at Poplar Creek. Jam Productions had plans for a new music theater but that was back in 2008. I don’t know if Hoffman Estates will ever have another popular outdoor music theater at this point in time. Let’s hope so.

  5. Linda Engelking Says:

    Bob Hope and Barbara Eden were the first we saw. Had season tickets that came in like catagories. Mac Davis, Ann Murry John Denver. Saw many shows there. My daugher’s graduating class was there too.

  6. Dave N Says:

    I saw a few shows there. Had seen Willie Nelson with my parents, The Steve Miller Band, and Bruce Springsteen.

  7. Karen Lilly Says:

    We saw many concerts there in the 80’s. Springsteen, REO, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, Bob Seger to name a few. We also had series tickets which were for 4 or 5 concerts of like entertainers over the summer. Does anyone know if there is an archive listing somewhere of the concert schedules for Poplar Creek by year? Was Jam Producions the promoter?

    • jrozek Says:

      I’m afraid I don’t know of any archive listing of concerts for Poplar Creek by year. For the first year, an article from the March 21, 1980 issue of the Daily Herald states that The Nederlander Organization of Detroit and its partner, RKO-General announced the slate of performers. I also checked for a list in the 1980 and 1981 issues of the Hoffman Estates Citizen which is the village newsletter. Unfortunately, they did not give a slate of acts either. Should one come across my desk for ANY of the years, I will pass that information on.

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian

  8. Lee M Says:

    It was in fact John Denver. I was there in attendance after being the project architect for the project.

  9. DaveG Says:

    Saw the Beach Boys, and graduated at Poplar Creek

  10. Paul Says:

    Let’s bring the Beach Boys back to the SEARS CENTRE this year .

  11. scott Says:

    blues brothers

  12. Irv. Schapiro Sr. Says:

    John Denver is correct. Such a great place to work and see a concert etc. Mugsy (theatre Prop man)

  13. Ron Lange Says:

    The original summer schedule for 1980 was John Denver (June 6) folowed by Henry Mancini and Sarah Vaughn (7th), Bob Hope and Barbara Eden (8th), Lawrence Welk (15th), Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (18th), Jefferson Starship (19th), New York Philharmonic (23rd), Sammy Hagar with the Joe Perry Project (25th), and The Blues Brothers (27th). In July, there was Jimmy Buffett & the Coral Reefer Band (5th), Charles Aznavour (9th), Kenny Loggins & Firefall (11th), Engelbert (12-13th), Barry Manilow (18-21st), Isaac Stern (27th), Chuck Mangione (28th), and Diana Ross (30-31st). In August, Paul Anka (1st and 2nd), Beach Boys (4th), Johnny Mathis (8th and 9th), James Taylor (17th), Tom Jones (22nd), and Chicago (26th).

  14. Ron Lange Says:

    In 1981, Paul Anka appeared on June 4th, Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme on June 5th, Mac Davis on July 16th (possibly with Alabama as the opening act), Moody Blues on July 18th, Linda Ronstadt on July 27th, In August, Three Dog Night (12th), John Denver (15th), and Anne Murray (16th).

    June 1982 – Paul Anka (6th) ??, Beach Boys (12th – Series 7), Charlie Daniels Band (13th – Series 7), Asia (17th – Series 5), Chicago (18th – Series 4), Joan Rivers & David Brenner (June 19th – Series 2) and Jimmy Buffett with Bonnie Raitt (26th – Series 4_

    July 1982 – Santana (9th – Series 5), Elton John with Quarterflash (10th – Series 5), Engelbert (16-17 – Series 1), George Benson (18 – Series 3), Steve Miller (22nd – Series 7), Johnny Mathis & Henry Mancini (23 & 24 – Series 1), Wayne Newton (25th – Series 2), Al Jarreau (29th – Series 3), Lena Horne (30 &31st – Series 1).

    August 1982 – Lena Horne (1st – Series 3), Genesis (2nd – Series 5), Barbara Mandrell (6th – Series 6), James Taylor (9th – Series 4), Crosby, Stills and Nash (21st – Series 4), Eddie Rabbitt (22nd – Series 2), Dolly Parton (28th – Series 6), Olivia Newton-John (29th & 30th)

    September 1982 – Jefferson Starship (1st – Series 7), Manhattan Transfer (2nd – Series 3), Anne Murray (3rd – Series 2), Willie Nelson (4th – Series 6), Kenny Loggins (6th – Series 4)

    Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers also played in 1982 and Elton John had more than one date.

  15. Ron Lange Says:

    In 1983, SERIES 1 consisted of Barry Manilow, Engelbert (July 7-8), Tom Jones (July 29-30), and Bette Midler (July 14-15). SERIES 2 included Barry Manilow, Paul Anka (July 20), Shirley Bassey (June 18), and John Denver (July 23). SERIES 3 had Bette Midler (July 16), Melissa Manchester/David Brenner, Al Jarreau (July 22), George Benson (August 27), and Donna Summer (July 12). SERIES 4 had Kenny Loggins (August 25), Joni Mitchell (July 6), Chicago (June 19), Air Supply (July 19), Santana (September 10), and the Beach Boys (June 5). SERIES 5 included Bob Seger, the Moody Blues (July 9), Loverboy (August 6), Eric Clapton (July 11), Asia (September 3), and Jackson Browne (August 28). SERIES 6 was Willie Nelson (August 12), the Oak Ridge Boys (August 21), Waylon Jennings (June 8) and Merle Haggard. SERIES 7 consisted of Hall and Oates (June 11), Elvis Costello (August 24), Peter Gabriel (August 2), and TO BE ANNOUNCED.

  16. Ron Lange Says:

    1984 – SERIES 1 – John Denver (June 5), Linda Ronstadt with Nelson Riddle Orchestra (July 3), Johnny Mathis (August 7), and Steve Lawrence/Eydie Gorme (August 9). SERIES 2 – John Denver (June 6), Everly Brothers (July 6), Herb Alpert & TJB (August 16), and Sheena Easton (August 21). SERIES 3 – Pointer Sisters & Lee Ritenour (July 5), James Taylor with Randy Newman (August 4), George Benson (September 14) and TO BE ANNOUNCED. SERIES 4 – Jimmy Buffett (June 23), Moody Blues (July 2), Chicago (August 1), James Taylor with Randy Newman (August 3), and Air Supply. SERIES 5 – King Crimson (June 22), Huey Lewis & the News (July 7), .38 Special (July 14), Rick Springfield, and TO BE ANNOUNCED. SERIES 6 – Oak Ridge Boys (August 10), Willie Nelson (August 20), Barbara Mandrell (September 22) and TO BE ANNOUNCED. SERIES 7 – Billy Idol (June 1), Joe Jackson (June 10), Go-Go’s (June 24), Eurythmics (August 11), Pretenders (August 17), and Elvis Costello.

  17. Karen Says:

    John Denver was first! Talk about memories….I actually worked in the ticket office that first year. We got to take lunch break out in the pavillion/lawn & I saw Denver laying up on the hill. Another day, as a co-worker & I walked back to the office, we passed what I thought to be a greasy long hair black leather clad whatever. He said “hi” as we walked past & my friend almost died (OK…so I didn’t know who Tom Petty was at the time….LOL) Barry Manilow put on THE BEST performance I have ever seen (my daughter lives in NYC & is actually seeing him tonight out there!). For Manilow’s performance the union costumer from Chicago was running late. They came to the ticket office & asked if anyone knew how to iron. My hand went up in a shot (thanks Mom, for teaching me how to iron). They took me backstage & I got to meet Manilow’s costumer & started ironing tons of choir robes. One Voice was being performed that night w/local choirs. I was minutes away from actually being able to meet Mr. Manilow & dang….the union worker showed up & kicked me out…SO CLOSE…! What a great venue that was & what wonderful memories…

  18. Mike kightly Says:

    The 1st was John Denver

  19. Richard Williams Says:

    I still have the opening night invitation and went to every show the first year. I represented the Village in fighting the Barringtons to allow Poplar Creek to go forward. John Denver returned many times. What a great time those years were except 8-8-88 when employees (my daughter) in the parking lot were required to dodge lightning all night as Willie played on.

  20. Liz K Says:

    We used to go there every 4th of July. My parents, sister, and I would go and listen to the orchestra and then sit out on the lawn for the fireworks.
    In the summer of 1990, my mom took my sister, her friend and myself to see the New Kids on the Block there. At the time, they were very popular.
    I graduated from Hoffman Estates High School in 1995. We were the first class since 1982, from HEHS, not to graduate from there. I was disappointed to learn this, but on the day we graduated, it was very hot and humid. I was glad we were indoors and not outside at Popular Creek.
    I have such fond memories of Popular Creek!

  21. Tracey Partin Says:

    I would swear I saw Queen there but didn’t see the name mentioned on the lists above. Not sure what year it would have been either…

  22. Andraste Reminiec Says:

    I saw Black SAbbath ,when they played at Poplar creek ,back in 1981..We were indoors, in the second to the back row!
    the crowd so quiet,one could hear a pin drop!

  23. Scott Says:

    Tracey, Queen played 2 nights in 1982, with Billy Squire.

  24. Mike M Says:

    I saw Anita Baker there in I want to say like 87 or 88

  25. Ann Womack Says:

    I’m pretty sure I was there, June 1980 when Steve Dahl from the Loop took the stage in a diaper. People threw tomatoes at him, then Scandal took the stage with the main show of Molly Hatchet. Even outside I thought my eardrums were going to blow they were so loud! But an excellent concert and memory.

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