2023 Ribfest kicks off at the DuPage Event Center and Fairgrounds

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The Exchange Club of Naperville kicked off the 2023 Ribfest at the DuPage Event Center and Fairgrounds. This is the second year the event is taking place in Wheaton.

“We love it here. It’s a perfect venue for Ribfest and for special events, so it’s an easy setup. Everything we need is out here,” said Diane Simmons, the Entertainment Chair of Ribfest.

Ribfest is open from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

Eight rib vendors at this year’s event

Returning alongside the venue is, of course, the ribs, which this year features eight rib vendors from various locations that are eager to provide guests with delicious meat.

“A lot of these vendors have been with us for 20-plus years, some new, but they line up to get a spot every year,” said Simmons.

While the focus remains on the ribs, there are also vendors selling additional food, including corn dogs, hot dogs, bundt cakes, and other fair-like treats.

New fees at the 2023 Ribfest

This year, there is a $5 admission fee and a $10 parking fee that grants access to the rib vendors, expos, and the Wintrust Community Banks Family Area.

Move to the fall at DuPage Fairground

The event had traditionally been held the weekend leading up to the Fourth of July for more than 30 years. Last year’s event was held in mid-June. The Exchange Club moved the 2023 Ribfest to September.

“It was a combination of the fair schedule, and our schedule, and getting the entertainers lineup,” said Simmons. “We decided on a fall event.”

Various artists performing this weekend

The main entertainment that Ribfest offers is their concerts. Each year, the event brings a variety of popular music artists from different genres to the community.

“We have 7th Heaven opening up for Third Eye Blind tonight and then lots of country [on Saturday],” said Simmons. “The Hillbilly Rockstarz, Alexandra Kay, and then Phil Vassar tomorrow night, and then it’s all local bands on Sunday and that’s free.”

Concert tickets are separate from the admission fee and vary in price. Tickets are available on Ribfest’s website.

Family fun activities

While there is no carnival this year, the Wintrust Community Banks Family Area will still offer fun activities for kids.

“We have a bouncy house area with quite a few inflatables, and then in our family fun area, we’re going to have the School of Rock out [and] we have all sorts of games and activities for kids to do every day,” said Simmons.

Volunteer work for charities

Volunteers play a big role in the event’s success, and those interested can still volunteer at Ribfest.

The volunteer work not only brings a fun time to the community but also helps the Exchange Club of Naperville  provide resources to organizations with the same mission of fighting against child abuse and domestic violence.

“Those organizations also come out here and help us volunteer, so they’re out helping their own causes as well, and the money that we raise goes back to those organizations and all over the area from food to shelter to your basic needs, and so that’s what really we’ve focused on for 34 years,” said Simmons.

To date, Ribfest has raised over $25 million dollars and has contributed to over 50 organizations.

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