The Naperville Ribfest returns to the DuPage Fairgrounds in Wheaton with a new date on the calendar. Third Eye Blind and Phil Vassar starring.
Now in its 34th year, the Naperville Ribfest will take place September 15-16 from 12:00 to 22:00, and September 17, from 12:00 to 20:00, at the DuPage Event Center and Fairgrounds in Wheaton. This is the second year at the Wheaton location, and it’s also a change in the calendar. Ribfest was held in mid-June 2022.
“Last year went pretty well apart from our cancellation,” said Ribfest president Jerry Kochurka, referring to lead actor Toby Keith’s retirement for health reasons. “The DuPage Event Center is working diligently with us again to help make this a success.
“We hope this year’s timing will help us a bit and the temperature won’t be 90 to 100 degrees.”
Third Eye Blind (“Semi-Charmed Life”) will perform on September 15, and country music legend Phil Vassar will perform on September 16. Singer-songwriter Alexandra Kay of Millstadt, Illinois will be opening Vassar.
“This will be one-stage. The good thing about this year compared to last year was last year we were on the pea gravel and when it was windy you got dust in your eyes,” he said. “This year we moved it to the other side of the park where the grass is.”
Ribfest will feature seven returning ribs and a new one, Texas Lightning BBQ. Other ribs include: Armadillo’s Rib and Que Company, Johnson’s Bar-B-Que, Salt Creek BBQ, Texas Outlaw Barbecue, Western Bronco BBQ, and Blazin’ Bronco BBQ.
While Kochurka prefers her ribs to be dry rubbed, she appreciates the variety that each rib brings to the table.
“That’s one of the things I like about it, that they’re all different.”
For this purpose, he said they have reduced the number of some auxiliary food vendors.
“We pulled out some of the other food vendors and provided more information about the ribs and the chicken that the ribs cook,” he said.
Other vendors include Nothing Bundt Cake, Dippin’ Dots Ice Cream, Eatery Huts Lemonade, and Suzie’s Fun Foods.
He also said that there will be about 15 business and organization stands. Children said they can enjoy a carnival and family entertainment area with inflatable toys and other activities.
He said Ribfest is the Naperville Exchange Club’s annual fundraising event to help fight child abuse and domestic violence.
“Another feature of this event is that we are all volunteers. “None of us are getting paid,” he said.
Kochurka has been in Ribfest for 22 years.
“I love the event and I love where the money is going,” she said. “It’s about fun, food and family. Go out for music and great ribs and to have fun with your family.
Naperville Rib Festival
When: 15-16 September 12-22:00 and 17 September 12-20:00
Where: DuPage Event Center and Fairgrounds: 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton
Tickets: 5 dollars; $35-40 for fun
Annie Alleman is a freelance reporter at the Naperville Sun.