How to Ribfest 2018

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Music, fun, and of course ribs. The Exchange Club of Naperville’s 31st annual Naperville Ribfest will take over Knoch Park for the Fourth of July holiday.

But there are a few things to keep in mind before taking on the fest. Starting with your entry into the event. There’s a new type of ticket called RFID wristbands.

“The RFID can also serve as a way to purchase things in the park. You can electively attach your credit card number with a pin and use that at different locations throughout the park, whether it’s to buy your favorite ribs, a beverage, or even to buy carnival tickets. So it’s really an opportunity for everyone to make it easier for you to make it through the day,” explained 2018 Ribfest Chairman Joel Carlsen.

If you’re looking to enjoy Ribfest on a budget, everyday tickets for the south park are just $5 this year, where “Ribbers Row,” the south stage, and the family area are located.

Kids under the age of 11 get in free all four days of the fest, on the Fourth of July after 5 p.m. entry is free for all, and veterans get in free all day on the holiday as a special treat.

“Veterans get in free on the Fourth of July and we’ve done that for the last couple of years but we haven’t really talked about it a whole lot,” said Carlsen. “And we have VETANKS who are bringing in these tank-type wheelchairs to help move our veterans around from point A to point B in the park.”

Also to make things easier and greener, 16 oz. beverage cans will replace the non-recyclable cups from years past.

But it’s what’s new to the Ribfest lineup that’s exciting most. July fourth will kick off the main stage with The Stray Cats and Melissa Etheridge, July fifth will see Pitbull perform, July sixth is country day with Jake Owen, and to cap off the fest on July seventh is Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler with the Loving Mary Band.

Getting that rocker to Ribfest was particularly unique.

“We actually had the idea to not only propose hiring him but also making a donation to his charity Janie’s Fund,” added Carlsen. “Janie’s Fund is a domestic victims charity. And with Ribfest being to prevent and eliminate domestic abuse and child abuse in all forms, it fit perfectly with our mission.”

And that music will pair perfectly with the two new ribbers this year: Just North of Memphis and Salt Creek BBQ. In total there will be 11 to choose from at “Ribbers Row.”

There will also be a shuttle service to avoid backed up parking around the 30 acres of Knoch Park. More information about shuttle stops and the fest itself can be found at

Ribfest began in 1988 on Rotary Hill over Father’s Day weekend. The following year the Exchange Club moved the festival to Knoch Park and has held it there on the Fourth of July ever since.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.