Tickets for Ribfest are selling well and the hottest tickets so far are for the nights when Steve Miller and ZZ Top perform.
The festival is in its 25th year and the Exchange Club of Naperville has big hopes that it will raise a significant amount of money from the five-day music and food festival.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we could give away a million dollars,” said Julie Lichter, Ribfest PR and marketing chair. Money raised at Ribfest is donated to organizations that work to end domestic violence and child abuse.
A few things at Ribfest are new and different this year, from new rib vendors to online ticket sales.
Unlike previous years, Ribfest tickets will not be sold at Jewel. Anyone planning to attend the festival will need to buy tickets online or at the gate, Lichter said.
Along with the online ticket sales, tickets are being sold for specific dates. Tickets range from $10 to $25. The most expensive ticket is $25 for the first night of Ribfest, June 29, which has Steve Miller headlining. The date specific tickets include entry to Ribfest, access to the musical performances and entry to the family area, Lichter said.
“We still think it is going to be a big crowd — and we aren’t opening until 4 p.m. that [first] day,” Lichter said. “We still believe it will be a really nice size crowd. We are trying to limit the number of people in the park, but to limit it so it is a comfortable experience.”
Even so, seating for the musical acts is still on a first-come, first-seated basis, she said. There will be big screens up and boosters for sound amplification.
For those who prefer to stay away from the packed crowd, there will be a big screen located at the south park on the festival grounds, Lichter said. All of the main stage acts will appear nightly on the big screen.
This year there will be 15 ribbers serving up barbecue, she said. New to Ribfest is Robinson’s Ribs, which has not participated before. Along with Robinson’s, new rib vendors Willingham’s and BBQ Masters will also be in attendance.
Ty Pennington will be at Ribfest grilling with three chefs from Sears, Lichter said. Along with the cooking presentations, Pennington will be giving away grills and his Ty Pennington outdoor furniture sets.
Putting on the festival is no small feat and this year there will be 4,000 volunteers who will be working to keep the festival running smoothly, Lichter said. Two groups are still being sought to volunteer at the event.
The Exchange Club of Naperville organizes and oversees Ribfest, and it is an all-volunteer event.
Over the last 25 years the service club has raised enough money to give away $12 million to 50 different organizations, she said. Last year about $600,000 was given away to local organizations.
The event always ends with fireworks. This year the fireworks are on July 3. Lichter wants to make sure that everyone is aware so nobody shows up a day late. The fireworks show is paid for by the city of Naperville, the Naperville Park District and the Exchange Club of Naperville and its sponsors, which all split the cost of putting on the fireworks show.
With everything coming together, Lichter had one more request: “Pray for sunshine.”
Ribfest will be held June 29 through July 3 at Knoch Park. Children 11 and under are free with a paying adult. Information on Ribfest and the musical acts can be found on the Ribfest website. Purchase tickets.