Naperville’s RibFest is Insanely Humongous and Boasts Tons of Fun

I had never been to Naperville’s infamous Ribfest before until this year. I didn’t understand the $10 per person per day fee, didn’t get the hype, could make my own bbq ribs at home, wasn’t sure if I was even going, but the moment I stepped onto the fair grounds, I had completely underestimated Naperville’s Rib Fest.


I was at first skeptical, opting to get in at 7:30pm, on the last hour and a half of the fest where admission was FREE to everyone. My party and I walked into controlled chaos.

Huge balloons with sponsorship logos, a long row of rib vendors, another row of alcohol, another row of the carnival food that exists only in the summer time, so on and on.

It was so massive I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. And the insane part was that we had only explored 1/3 of it!

As we walked on, we explored fun carnival games where you could win stuffed animals, a children’s petting zoo, free samples from Eckrich sausage company and heard lots of bands playing on various stages. We explored all the way to the other side of the fest, where we decided to find a spot to sit, eat and watch fireworks.

Ribs Grilling

We took a look around at the other side of the festival where a long row of bbq rib vendors were set up. Everyone harked similar things: we won the best sauce, best ribs, champions in this year, #1 in this area, etc. So we opted for the place that had a longer line and a tasty bbq sauce which was…

Pigfoot BBQ

Pigfoot. Located in Ohio, they’re pretty serious about their ribs. Bottled sauces were available for retail purchase too. They had sold so many ribs that we had to wait 10 extra minutes for the next batch to cook up. But in no time, we got our ribs.

BBQ sauces

And our sauces. We tried all the sauces which ranged from super sweet to super spicy (killer). We didn’t like about 3 out of the 5 sauces, but we really liked their mild bbq sauce. Not too sweet, not too spicy, tangy, but not sour and with just the right amount of flavor to compliment the ribs.

Half Slab w/ beans, cole slaw, bread

We ordered the half slab ribs plus beans, cole slaw and bread combo as we weren’t that hungry. We immediately liked the ribs and slathered the sauce onto it.

Another shot at half slab, cole slaw, beans and bread

Here’s another view of the combo with the bread out of the way. While the ribs were pretty good, the sauce was excellent, the beans were forgettable and the cole slaw was just okay. The bread seems to be a typical for what it was, at least good for sopping up bbq sauces on the side. And then… the fireworks.

This happened to be my best fireworks photo from this event. The other ones weren’t that great and happened to be the best fireworks show I’ve been to in person! It lasted a long time and was quite loud!

Fried chips

On the way out, vendors had food out on their counters and I had no idea why. Curiousity got the best of me and approached them. I ended up with a free plate of fried chips! OH YEAH FREE FOOD. Freshly fried, crispy and oh so not good for you but tastes great.

Funnel Cake

A guy from a large family took pity on me with his stack of 15+ free funnel cakes and gave me one from his pile. My love handles rejoiced. Once back home, BE and I set upon the free food and happily ate our newly acquired meals. A sweet ending to our excursion into Naperville’s RibFest.

Naperville Ribfest
Naperville Knoch Park
July 1st thru July 4th, 2011
12 p.m. – 10 p.m.

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