The trifecta of smoked meats plus cold beer plus rock music awaits Ribfest crowds in a little over six weeks — for those counting.
Festival organizers are almost ready to fire up the grills and settle into their new home at the DuPage County Fairgrounds in Wheaton after a pandemic pause and 32 years in Naperville.
New festival dates — four days of barbecue bliss over Father’s Day weekend — have been set. Headlining concerts have been announced. And Ribfest organizers have now received a liquor license from the city of Wheaton to serve beer, wine and seltzer-type drinks at the fairgrounds from June 17-20.
City council members approved the license request in a unanimous vote Monday night.
Mayor Phil Suess joked rib sampling “should be part of the application process.” Ribbing aside, Suess, along with City Manager Mike Dzugan, commended the DuPage County Fair Association for helping put Ribfest on its calendar of events.
“Thank you to the fairgrounds. I know you have a number of activities this summer, and that’s wonderful,” Suess said.
Ribfest traditionally paid homage to the art and science of barbecue as a Fourth of July celebration held at Naperville’s Knoch Park for 31 of its 32 years. Park renovations forced organizers with the Exchange Club of Naperville to look for another venue after the last hurrah in the city in 2019.
Relaunching Ribfest at the county fairgrounds will give crowds on-site parking options. Unlike the Fourth of July editions of Ribfest, there won’t be a fireworks show.
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But Exchange Club organizers plan to entice barbecue hounds with pitmaster competitions, music, carnival rides and — notably — free general admission.
Evening concerts will still be ticketed during Ribfest, a major fundraiser for charities supporting survivors of child abuse and domestic violence. Headliners so far include county music singer Brett Eldredge and hard rockers Halestorm.
The anticipated festival hours are from noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 10 p.m. Sunday; and noon to 8 p.m. Monday.
There will be three locations at the fairgrounds selling alcohol early in the day, and four more will open at 5 p.m. to serve the concert venue.
The Wheaton liquor commission also voted unanimously to recommend approval of an outdoor special event liquor license.