26th Ribfest Recap

As the Naperville Exchange Club wraps up another year of ribs, rides, and rhythms, they have high hopes for the final tally of the 26th edition of Ribfest.

“Things have been going really, really well,” said Julie Lichter, the spokesperson for Ribfest 2013. “We’ve had really great concerts for four nights and we’ve had a really steady stream of customers.”

Customers that continue to come back time after time.

“It’s actually the atmosphere, the BBQ and the bands that they have,” said Natalie Mitchell a Homer Glen resident. “We’ll be back every year.”

This year 13 rib vendors set up shop in Knoch Park for the five day festival serving up more than 60,000 pounds of ribs.

With so much variety and every booth having so many awards, how do you choose the best?

“My aunt told us about some ratings and we went to Armadillo’s,” said Minnesota resident Sarah Dobrinsky. “Because she read that was the number one.”

Armadillo’s entered Ribfest as the 2012 Champion and walked away with the honor again this year. So what’s their secret?

“Tender love and care,” said Bill Ball, owner of Armadillo’s. “You can’t rush good ribs. If you try to cook them to fast they get rubbery or they get dry like shoe leather. You’ve got to cook them low and slow.”

Another ingredient to the event’s success is the concerts that cap off each night of Ribfest.

Styx took the stage first on Wednesday night, and Thursday saw Casey James play for the crowd.

One unexpected act was Blackhawks anthem singer Jim Cornelison who sang for the crowd in honor of Independence Day and Thursday ended with 4th of July fireworks.

As the sun set on the final day of Ribfest, the party was just getting started as Lynyrd Skynyrd took the stage. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers played to a full house.

You can’t mention Ribfest without mentioning all the good it does in the community.

In it’s 26-year history, the event has donated more than $13 million to agencies that work to stop child abuse and domestic violence.

Even members of the National Exchange Club stopped by to get a taste how Ribfest is able to be so successful.

“Everyone is working for that one thing,” said Tom Karnes, the Region 7 Vice President of the National Exchange Club. “Even as you go over to the beer tent and when a tip is gone they ring the gong because that’s another dollar that is going to the prevention of child abuse.

Totals won’t be finalized until later this year, but organizers think this could turn out to be the biggest Ribfest to date.

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