Volunteers Keep Ribfest Running

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Your bags get checked, your tickets get scanned, and you’re greeted with a smile.

It’s routine when walking through the entrance gates at Naperville’s Ribfest, where you might run into first-time volunteer Kylene, who’s finding extra benefits out of her position.

“And we’re also volunteering for our school’s National Honor Society. We go to Naperville Central, which is right over there,” said Kylene Sim, a volunteer at the East Gate Entrance of the fest.

While other volunteers are just excited for what Ribfest has to offer.

“I just really love ribs and Pitbull. And I just love the community and the feeling of Ribfest,” added Julia Tung, another volunteer from Naperville Central.

When searching for those ribs and music you may stop by the sponsor tent, where veteran volunteers like Bruce Erickson show the rookies the ropes.

“I like people, so it’s fun to have all these awesome volunteers that come in and give up their time,” said Erickson. “They’re open and they want to help. So you can kind of give them what you’ve learned over 30 years and show them the best way we think to do things. And still I just found out five minutes ago there’s a better way to do something than the way I’ve been doing it.”

Over 1,000 volunteers assist each day of the four-day event. Whether it’s rain or shine, Ribfest volunteers are cleaning the grounds, handing off beers, or for announcers like Sean Kelley, they’re keeping everyone safe so the fun is all worth it.

“I keep doing this because it’s a great cause,” said Kelley. “This is something that is very near and deer to my heart. I raised two kids, my daughter’s thirty my son is 28 and they went to Naperville Central High School. So it meant a lot to me to really give back to the community.”

Ribfest has raised more than $16 million since the event began in 1987 by The Exchange Club of Naperville. The festival works with dozens of charities that fight to eliminate child abuse and domestic violence.

A worthy cause any volunteer can get behind.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.