Ribfest Kicks Off 25th Birthday

The 25th edition of Ribfest opened its gates on Friday, and the crowds flocked to Knoch Park. The sun was shining and the ribs were flying off the shelves, but early morning thunderstorms worried at least one Ribfest veteran.

“For the past three days, I’ve actually been on my phone, looking at the weather,” said Dekalb resident Megan Erdmann. “I was constantly checking every hour, so I was a little nervous but I thought we would get lucky, and we have, so it’s been great.”

Erdmann was making her third Ribfest trip, and like many experienced attendees, she says the key to a good rib experience is variety. “We just try to spread out,” Erdmann said. “I hit different (vendors) every year.”

Chicago native Matt Jones was making his seventh trek to Naperville for Ribfest. He likes to mix up the tastes.

“I get some of the hot sauce, some of the mild sauce and some of the sweet sauce,” Jones said when asked his strategy. “You get a little taste of each, (and) I mean they go down easy.”

With 15 places to choose from, it isn’t always so easy to make a choice.

“You kind of look at all these, and you’re like, ‘Everyone is the best at something, they’ve won everywhere in some state,'” mentioned Warrenville native Keith Borkowicz. “Sometimes you kind of just take your chances, you go with who has the longest line, or if you’re hungry you go with who has the shortest line. But everyone’s good, I’ve never been disappointed with any of the ribs.”

It would be hard to be disappointed with the entertainment. The Steve Miller Band headlined the first night of the Naperville Exchange Club’s marquee event with hits like “Jungle Love” and “Take and the Money and Run.”

For Ribfest patrons, the soothing sounds are perfect for the season, letting everyone know that summer has truly arrived.

“The first time I came to Ribfest I was pretty much hooked, and I’ve been coming every year since,” Erdmann said with a grin. “It’s definitely the summer, and the food and the beer and all of it (make it). Outdoor concert, definitely summer.”


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