Exchange Club of Naperville’s Ribfest debuts at DuPage County Fairgrounds – Chicago Tribune
They’re going back to the beginning.
“Ribfest, when it originally started 30-some years ago, actually started as a Father’s Day weekend event,” said Patrick McDonough, marketing and publicity chair and member of the Exchange Club of Naperville. “So we’re kind of going full circle coming right back to where we started again on Father’s Day. We’re delighted about that.”
The 33rd Annual Ribfest, organized by the Exchange Club of Naperville, returns after a two-year hiatus in a new month and new location. The 2022 festival runs June 17-20 at the DuPage Event Center & Fairgrounds in Wheaton. The festival runs from 12-11 pm June 17-18, 12-10 pm June 19 and 12-8 pm June 20.
While admission to the concert area of the festival requires the purchase of a ticket, there is no entry fee to access the rib vendors, family fun area, carnival and exhibits.
“The area that will require an admission ticket is the area for the music venue,” McDonough said. “There are limited tickets for that. So we are encouraging people that if you intend to come for the music acts, go on the website and get your tickets right now because those will be going fast.”
Scheduled to perform are Elle King and Toby Keith on June 17 and Candlebox and Halestorm on June 18. Father’s Day, June 19, is country music day. The afternoon will feature Alexandra Kay, Levi Hummon, and Ashley McBryde, with Brett Eldredge headlining.
“If you like country music, that’s going to be your day,” McDonough said. “That’s going to be the place where you’re going to want to get out there early and get a good spot.”
June 20 is local band day, with 7th Heaven headlining.
“Everybody knows 7th Heaven,” McDonough said. “They’ve had a couple of hit songs, but probably their main claim to fame is their famous ’30 hits in 30 minutes’ rendition. It’s something to be experienced. It’s something to get up off your feet and let your body start moving and dancing and you’ll be dancing for 30 straight minutes. They’re a lot of fun.”
Plans for a number of other local bands to perform were still being finalized at press time.
Those attending the concerts are encouraged to bring their chairs and blankets.
“There isn’t going to be a bad seat in the house,” McDonough said. “Everybody’s going to be up front and close.”
The move from the longtime site of Naperville’s Knoch Park to the county fairgrounds will offer more space and closer parking for the public. There are fixed restroom facilities, along with family changing areas. Gravel surfaces are more accommodating for those using mobility devices, he said.
“Just different amenities like that that make it so much more easier,” McDonough said. “We also like the fact the space at the fairgrounds will accommodate the barbecue vendors really well. It’s going to be a much bigger, much more wide-open space for people to spread out and sit down and enjoy their ribs.
“Quite frankly we were a little crowded at the old space back in the day so we think because there’s so much more space here at the fairgrounds this is going to be perfect for the vendors,” he said,
Seven rib vendors will be on site serving up award-winning BBQ ribs, pulled pork and BBQ chicken and unique sauces.
“We have some of the old favorites like the Armadillo’s (Rib & Que Company) and Texas Outlaw (BBQ) and Uncle Bub’s (BBQ). Some of the old familiar favorites are coming back with us,” McDonough said. “But we also have a couple of new ones that we haven’t had in the past.”
Other ribbers participating are Salt Creek BBQ, Howling Coyote Roadhouse BBQ, Johnson’s BBQ and Blazin Bronco BBQ. A number of non-BBQ food vendors will also be at the festival, along with beer tents and a wine tasting area.
A carnival will offer unlimited ride wristbands for purchase. Adjacent to the carnival is a family fun area with a variety of activities.
“We actually have a whole separate contained building,” McDonough said. “We’re absolutely delighted with that. It’s sheltered, so if weather starts to become an issue, it doesn’t get in the way of the family fun area at all because it’s got a roof. And it’s also air-conditioned. We’re really, really thrilled with that. It’s going to be a great place to go.”
Ribfest is the major fundraiser for the Exchange Club of Naperville, which is working to end domestic violence and child abuse. Funds raised at the festival benefit multiple local charities. The event runs with the help of hundreds of volunteers. Those interested in volunteering can register on the Ribfest website.
In the past the Exchange Club used the slogan “party with a purpose,” McDonough said.
“We’re not using that line this year, but that idea is really there,” he said. “Come out, have a great time and you can feel good about yourself because you’re doing some good for the local community and the Western suburbs.”
33rd Annual Ribfest
When: June 17-20
Where: DuPage Event Center & Fairgrounds, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton
Tickets: Concerts: $45-$195 on June 17; $35-$175 on June 18; $45-$195 on June 19; and $25-$145 on June 20. Carnival unlimited rides wristband: $22.49-$31.85 June 17-19; $27.16 on June 20. Premium parking: $10
Information: 630-259-1129; ribfest.net
Kathy Cichon is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.
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