A user’s guide to Naperville Ribfest
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media June 28, 2012 3:28PM
Michael Araiza tends the grill at the Texas Outlaws BBQ tent at Ribfest in Naperville. Ribfest starts June 29. | Sun-Times Media File
♦ 4-10 p.m. June 29; noon-10 p.m. June 30 to July 3
♦ Knoch Park, 724 S. West St., Naperville
♦ Tickets, $15-$25; free for 11 and under
♦ (630) 779-2702
18 Eatery Fresh Lemonade
20 Noon Lions Club
21 Suzie’s Fun Foods
22 Chase Root Beer
23 Lee Concessions
26 Fruit and Cream Hut
27 Kenny’s Pretzels
28 Gold Rush Soda
29 Gary Concessions
30 Strawberry Patch
31 Country Time Kettle Corn
32 Hugo’s Frog Bar
33 King Spud
34 Jamba Juice
35 Dippin Dots
37 Little Jimmy’s Italian Ice
91 Caney’s Creek Corn
93 Barbecue Masters
96 Porky N Beans
97 Mojo’s Rib Shack
98 Sgt. Oinks
99 Pigfoot BBQ
100 Howling Coyote Southwest
102 Desperado’s BBQ
103 Rasta Joe’s
104 Uncle Bub’s
105 Smokin’ Joes Hog Wild
106 Armadillo’s Ribs
107 Texas Outlaws
118 Eatery Fresh Lemonade
Updated: August 7, 2012 10:18AM
Naperville’s Ribfest is celebrating its silver anniversary this year with music and plenty of ribs.
The carnival and the family area are next to each other this year. Also, new this year are some big screens in the dining tent so you won’t miss a minute of music, said Ribfest spokeswoman Julie Lichter.
Here’s your guide to navigating the parking, the crowds, the fireworks and all those rib vendors.
Parking in downtown Naperville is competitive on the best of days. The best advice is to take a shuttle from one of the five remote parking lots with free daily shuttle service from Cowlishaw Elementary School, the Naperville Metra station, Naperville North High School, Neuqua Valley High School or North Central College. Twelve additional park-and-ride lots are available July 3. Shuttles run continuously on all days from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
You also could park at the Municipal Center or Centennial Beach lots, but you’ll have to walk from there. Edward Hospital is not open for Ribfest parking — you will be towed.
Ticket cost this year is based on the band playing on the main stage, and will be sold online or at the gate. There will be no tickets sold at Jewel-Osco stores this year. To see the Steve Miller Band tonight costs $25; Joe Walsh on Saturday costs $15; ZZ Top on Sunday costs $20; Joe Nichols costs $10 online or $15 at the gate on Monday; and Leftover Salmon and Moe costs $10 online and $15 at the gate Monday.
No refunds will be given if event is rained out.
Before you start complaining about the cost, remember the reason for Ribfest — the kids. Ribfest is a fundraiser for the Naperville Exchange Club.
“All the proceeds go to 50-plus agencies in our community that work to eliminate child abuse and domestic violence,” Lichter said. “In 25 years, we’ve been able to give away $12 million.”
Speaking of money, you’ll want to bring some cash for food, beverages and carnival rides.
Now, the food.
This year, the rib vendors — all 16 of them, hailing from around the country — will be located in the South Park.
“Also in the area, we’ll have a dining tent with a big screen next to it with the musical entertainment from the main stage simulcast,” she said. “So people on the South side will be able to see and hear the big stage musical entertainment. So if you want to hang out in the South Park where it’s not so congested, you can.”
New vendors this year include Barbecue Masters, Robinson’s No. 1 Ribs and Willingham’s World Champion BBQ. Returning favorites include Hog Wild Barbecue, Sgt. Oink’s BBQ, and Porky and Beans. Returning after last year’s hiatus will be Butch’s Smack Your Lips BBQ.
“We’re happy to have them back,” she said.
There will be plenty of places to get beer, side dishes and desserts, too.
Two stages will feature live music from national and local acts throughout the festival.
“The entertainment is awesome,” she said.
On the Navistar (main) stage, headliners are the Steve Miller Band at 8 p.m. Friday with Arra opening at 6:30 p.m.; Joe Walsh at 8 p.m. Saturday, with popular band 7th Heaven playing at 6 p.m.; ZZ Top at 8 p.m. Sunday; and on Monday night Thompson Square at 7 p.m. and Joe Nichols at 8:30 p.m. On Tuesday, they have Leftover Salmon at 3:30 p.m. and moe. at 5:30 p.m. The School of Rock All Stars perform at 8 p.m. Other bands perform throughout the fest; see the website for the full lineup.
“It’s a real eclectic mix of music,” she said. “We have something for just about everybody there. We try every year to get a cross-appeal.”
The Show Wagon Music stage offers a variety of eclectic bands as well; including Walkin’ With Cash on Saturday, the Almost Brothers and Jobu on Sunday; the Hat Guys on Monday and a Battle of the Bands and Voodoo Monkey Child on Tuesday.
On Saturday, former TV host Ty Pennington and three grilling chefs will rule the Sears “Grilling is Happiness” tent from noon to 5:30 p.m. They will be giving away grills and patio furniture, Lichter said.
“That will be a lot of fun,” she said. “He will be doing meet-and-greets and cooking with the chefs.”
The other celebrity chefs include George Hirsch, Robyn Lindars and Perry Perkins.
The free Naperville Bank and Trust Family Area includes inflatables, aerial circus performers, Radio Disney guests, petting zoo, magic show, Euro bungee, mechanical bull riding, big slide, jousting, balloon artists and Jim Nesci’s Cold Blooded Creatures reptile show.
Monday features a day of deals: $10 unlimited carnival rides from noon to 4 p.m., with $3 off half-slab rib dinners from participating vendors, $1 hot dogs and $1 ice cream. This is typically the day with the lightest attendance, so come early to beat the crowds.
“It’s less hectic, less crowded, and people can really enjoy an afternoon with their kids,” she said.
Additionally, it’s $10 Ribfest admission on Monday and Tuesday if you buy tickets online.
Fireworks will be from 9:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, with free admission to the park beginning at 7:30 p.m. The fireworks display is simulcast with music from 95.9 FM The River, and unless you sit under a tent or a tree, there are no bad seats in the house.
Extra remote parking and shuttle rides will be available to accommodate as many people as possible.
“We should have a great layout for people. We work very hard to accommodate our patrons who have been great supporters of Ribfest every year,” Lichter said. “And for people who are new to us, we hope they will come out and have a wonderful time. It’s a great event and we work really hard to make it a … family-friendly event.”