After 25 years of providing ribs and tunes for Naperville-area residents, Ribfest is back for its 25th year with an extensive array of musical artists.
Performers scheduled to appear from Friday, June 29, to Tuesday, July 3, on Knoch Park stages include ZZ Top, Steve Miller Band, Joe Walsh, moe and Thompson Square.
Picking the artists doesn't come easy, said Julie Lichter, marketing chairwoman for this year's celebration. Organizers have to juggle requests for many different artists from various segments of the community with some strict budget limitations. Booking big-name artists, Lichter says, has gotten more and more expensive as the years have gone by.
This year, a variety of musicians have been invited to Ribfest with a lot of different tastes and ages in mind.
"The target audience is across the board -- a little bit for everybody," Lichter said. "There's the old rockers, alternative bands for the younger generations like moe, and we can't forget about the country crowd that comes every year."
Country music fans will be in for a very special treat with the appearance of Thompson Square, recently awarded the Academy of Country Music's Duo of the Year. Other big country bands coming this year include Heartsfield and Joe Nichols.
Along with the bigger artists, Ribfest also includes a little of the local flavor from artists of the DuPage and Chicagoland areas, with bands like Joe's Garage Band, Billy Croft and The 5 Alarm and the Paul Avers Band. More than 300 local artists submit requests to play at Ribfest.
This year, for the first time, Ribfest tickets are available online. Lichter encourages those planning to attend to get them as early as possible. Every year there have been one or two days sold out for popular artists.
After 25 years, what has kept Ribfest successful?
"It's been more than luck ... there's been a lot of hard work and planning from a lot of people that keeps Ribfest alive year after year," Lichter said.