With temperatures hovering around 90 degrees this afternoon, Knoch Park was sizzling today…and what was even hotter were the grills.
Every year, Ribfest vendors fire them up with hopes of winning the coveted “Best Ribs Award.”
“These guys want to have the rights to brag cause it’s going to help them in their sales ultimately. They want the trophies. They want them in front of their booths and want to say they won Naperville.”
David Payne helps brings vendors from all around the country to Naperville for the city’s 4th of July Weekend Celebration. Part of the festivities include a judging completion.
This year, 24 judges included the likes of Mayor Pradel, Executive Director of the Park District Ray McGury, and the president of the national exchange club – all enjoying the variety of flavor.
“It went from smoky to very hot so they had all the entire realm of all the different types,” said Sidney Mobley, the President of the National Exchange Club.
The group ranked each type of rib from 1 to 7 for the meat itself and then for its sauce in a blind taste-test.
Morning storms nearly thwarted their efforts. But everyone evacuated to the barn where they safely resumed their judging.
A group of 9 kids also go to cast their voted for the kids choice award.
“Some are really sweet and some are really spicy & tangy and stuff,” said Kaley Letcher.
“I like number 9. It just had a good taste and the ribs were good and tender,” said Matthew Harrington.
With 16 different rib vendors this year, it may seem impossible to choose a favorite but some brought some strategy to the judging competition.
“First of all, you look at the quality. Then you smell it to see if it was maybe cooked in like a wood chipper or whatever it is,” said Mayor Pradel. “And then you taste and see if it falls off the bone and it’s tender.
“I just take a couple bites of each rib and then don’t get too full from the 16 ribs that we’re tasting,” said Dori Napolitano, Day Program Manager of Western DuPage Special Recreation Association, or WDSRA.
In the end, Armadillo & Porky and Beans were the big winners. Porky and Beans won first for Best Sauce, Armadillo won for the Best Ribs, and they both happened to tie for Kids Choice.
But the real winners of course, are the organizations who will use the Ribfest proceeds to prevent child abuse and domestic violence.
“Some 25 years they’ve been doing this Ribfest and as I’ve gone around the city, I can see the different projects they’ve done with the revenue from the Ribfest,” said Mobley. “So they’ve done a wonderful job here.”
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