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updated: 7/5/2014 9:43 PM

Ribfest's first Hispanic Day draws thousands

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  • Ofelia Nasir of Burbank eats ribs during the first Hispanic Day at Ribfest in Naperville.

       Ofelia Nasir of Burbank eats ribs during the first Hispanic Day at Ribfest in Naperville.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Sarah and Darryl Williams of Elmhurst take a selfie during the first Hispanic Day at Ribfest in Naperville.

       Sarah and Darryl Williams of Elmhurst take a selfie during the first Hispanic Day at Ribfest in Naperville.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Vocalist Cecy Santana of Rio Bamba entertains a Ribfest crowd with a blend of Brazilian, Latin and American Jazz during the first Hispanic Day at Ribfest in Naperville.

       Vocalist Cecy Santana of Rio Bamba entertains a Ribfest crowd with a blend of Brazilian, Latin and American Jazz during the first Hispanic Day at Ribfest in Naperville.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Vocalist Cecy Santana of Rio Bamba entertains a Ribfest crowd with a blend of Brazilian, Latin and American Jazz during the first Hispanic Day at Ribfest in Naperville.

       Vocalist Cecy Santana of Rio Bamba entertains a Ribfest crowd with a blend of Brazilian, Latin and American Jazz during the first Hispanic Day at Ribfest in Naperville.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Robert Vasquez of Des Plaines enjoys his ribs during the first Hispanic Day at Ribfest in Naperville.

       Robert Vasquez of Des Plaines enjoys his ribs during the first Hispanic Day at Ribfest in Naperville.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Long lines were worth the wait for many in the carnival area at the first Hispanic Day at Ribfest in Naperville.

       Long lines were worth the wait for many in the carnival area at the first Hispanic Day at Ribfest in Naperville.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Leonor Castro and Pedro Sanchez dance to the music of Rio Bamba during the first Hispanic Day at Ribfest in Naperville.

       Leonor Castro and Pedro Sanchez dance to the music of Rio Bamba during the first Hispanic Day at Ribfest in Naperville.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Rio Bamba at Ribfest

  • Video: rib14hispanicday

 
 

Leonor Castro and Pedro Sanchez swayed in rhythm to a Brazilian jazz tune, oblivious to the fact that they were the only ones dancing while thousands of others were busy chowing down ribs.

The couple were in the Chicago area on vacation from Costa Rica and said they were thrilled to attend the inaugural Hispanic Day on Saturday at Naperville's Ribfest.

"This is just great," Castro said. "The stage is great, this is all great. We don't have things like this in my country -- people here should really take advantage of it."

This was the first time organizers of the annual event reached out to a specific cultural group. The event featured all-day Latin music at the smaller of two music stages, as well as announcements and signs like "Bienvenido!" or "Welcome!" in Spanish.

Janette and German Martinez of Wheaton said they had no idea it was Hispanic Day when they came with their children Sophia, 5, and Abel, 3.

"Do we get in for free?" German Martinez joked.

His wife said she was glad their timing was perfect.

"I've always wanted to come," she said. "I always heard a lot about it and all the events they have for the kids -- it's a fun family event. And I love ribs!"

Adam Parks, a member of Ribfest's media and public relations committee, said the event attracts about 50,000 people daily, and is expected to raise about $600,000 benefiting 52 charities throughout DuPage County.

There were already about 15,000 people eating and milling about by about 2 p.m. Saturday, Parks said.

"I do see a little bit more diversity today. I don't know if we did a better job marketing or if it's just because of word-of-mouth," he said.

Pamela and Patrick Killian of downstate Pontiac have made Ribfest a tradition for the last five years.

"I like the music; he likes the ribs," Pamela Killian said.

On the other hand, the Abell family from Lombard made their first foray to Ribfest on Saturday.

"The ribs are really good here!" said 8-year-old Logan Abell. His brother Kevin, 10, said he liked the sweet ones best.

"It's really impressive," said the boys' father, Tony Abell. "We'll be back next year for sure."

It's about time Ribfest recognize Hispanics, Maria Hernandez of Berwyn said, not entirely jokingly.

"I knew it was Hispanic Day before coming here, even though I came because I know some of the business owners," she said. "I think it's good that they have a day for us."

Ribfest runs through Sunday in Knoch Park near downtown Naperville.

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