Rain may have delayed Sunday's edition of the Naperville Exchange Club's 25th annual Ribfest, but even the strongest storms couldn't postpone the judging of the annual rib competition.
As dark clouds gathered over Naperville's Knoch Park, both ribs and judges were moved into the nearby Barn, and anyone in the park was herded inside for protection.
While volunteers and vendors gathered in the Barn, the judges repaired to an upstairs room, where they locked themselves in, guarded by some of Naperville's finest.
When they emerged, Armadillo's was declared the winner in the best ribs category, finishing just ahead of Desperado's BBQ and Uncle Bub's.
Best sauce honors went to Porky N' Beans, followed by Johnson's BBQ and Willingham's BBQ. The kids' choice competition resulted in a tie between Porky N' Beans and Armadillo's.
Kevin Kollins, of WJOL radio and one of the judges, said there was no issue with the last-minute change of venue.
“I'll bet you anything we didn't lose any judges, because they're not going to miss out on the rest of the ribs,” he said. “I guarantee you all the judges made the transfer to the new facility.”
It was a special anniversary for the event, the proceeds of which go toward the elimination of child abuse and domestic violence.
One of the judges was Sidney Mobley, president of the National Exchange Club, who said the Naperville club is one of 700 across the country and in Puerto Rico with approximately 22,000 members.
“I think they are doing a marvelous job,” he said. “Naperville has been a major supporter.”
Another judge was Naperville Mayor George Pradel, who is in cardiac rehab and had a stent inserted in February.
“I'm keeping undercover from my doctor,” he joked, but added “I'm being very good” by limiting himself to little nibbles.
Tiffany Letcher of the Naperville Exchange Club said the event is a tremendous community effort involving more than 1,000 volunteer hours. She noted that the club works closely with police and fire departments and emergency management to stay on top of threatening weather situations.
“We have a great team,” she said.
Not everyone came for ribs. Nicole Rogers, who was one of the judges, said she is especially fond of the fried Twinkies.
“We come for the ribs, but we stay for the fried Twinkies,” she said.
Her husband, radio personality and comedian Leon Rogers, got in some good-natured ribbing himself.
“This is one way I can get sauced without going to jail,” he said.
“Coming out here is just fun,” he added. “I love it. We haven't been to the Taste (of Chicago) since we hit here. I love the vibe.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.