The 26th annual Exchange Club of Naperville Ribfest bid adieu to the last of its lip-licking visitors for the year this Sunday. Held over the Fourth of July weekend, Ribfest drew visitors from all over the region who came for the ribs and stayed for the music, activities and camaraderie. Headliners like STYX, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rick Springfield and, fan-favorite, Slash left standing room only at the two main stages. Barbecue connoisseurs from all around provided the fare for fans.
At night the Ribfest crowd rocked out, but by day they got down to business. Indulging in the ribs and sauces of several different vendors, visitors had tough choices to make as they moved from vendor to vendor. The 32 adults and eight kids on the judging panel had an even more challenging Saturday morning. The panel gathered to test the many vendors’ goods, ultimately charged with the task of naming Best Ribs and Best Sauce of the festival. The next-to-scientific judging process left each rib licked clean. The ribs and sauces that this years’ panel couldn’t get enough of? Armadillos and Johnson’s, respectively.
The activities were not limited to musical entertainment and enviable indulgence. This year’s Ribfest featured a proper award ceremony for the best in the BBQ business, as well as carnival rides, family fun and a fireworks display to celebrate the Fourth of July. Other vendors shared their goods at this year’s celebration in Knoch Park, including Dippin Dots, Jimmy’s Italian Ice, Pepsi, Oberweis, Miller Lite, Caney Creek Corn and Fresh Lemonade.
Whether in it for the BBQ, rock legends, rides or competition, this year’s Ribfest performed. Visitors and vendors alike contributed to an incredible Fourth of July weekend and an incredible cause. (All proceeds went to the elimination of child abuse and domestic violence). Congratulations to the best in BBQ and cheers to what proved itself – again – as one of the most rightfully anticipated festivals in the Midwest.