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posted: 7/8/2014 1:01 AM

It's barbecue fest weekend in the Fox Valley

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  • Katie Hogan, of Bolingbrook, prepares rib slabs for Uncle Bub's BBQ at the Lake in the Hills Rockin' Ribfest Saturday in Sunset Park. Uncle Bub's participates in numerous rib fests, showcasing their ribs "from Reno to Boston," says Hogan.

      Katie Hogan, of Bolingbrook, prepares rib slabs for Uncle Bub's BBQ at the Lake in the Hills Rockin' Ribfest Saturday in Sunset Park. Uncle Bub's participates in numerous rib fests, showcasing their ribs "from Reno to Boston," says Hogan.
    Daily Herald File Photo

  • American Idol winner Lee DeWyze will perform at Lake in the Hills Rockin' Ribfest.

      American Idol winner Lee DeWyze will perform at Lake in the Hills Rockin' Ribfest.
    Daily Herald File Photo

  • The Firin' Up the Fox barbecue festival in St. Charles features a cooking contest for kids.

      The Firin' Up the Fox barbecue festival in St. Charles features a cooking contest for kids.
    Courtesy of Stephanie Donovan Photography

 
By Lauren Rohr
lrohr@dailyherald.com

Two local festivals coming up this weekend share a common goal: raising money for a good cause.

Though they are separate events, Lake in the Hills Rockin' Ribfest and the Firin' Up the Fox BBQ Competition and Festival will both give Fox Valley residents a chance to contribute their time, money and resources to a weekend of fun and charitable causes.

Rockin' Ribfest

"We use this (event) as a way to bring the community together and also support other projects," said Robert Huckins, event chairman and president of the Lake in the Hills Rotary Club.

Starting at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, July 10, at Sunset Park in Lake in the Hills, the Rockin' Ribfest will offer "four days of nothing but fun," Huckins said.

Admission is $5 for attendees age 12 and older. Kids 12 and younger are admitted free, as are active military with an I.D.

The proceeds for this event go toward specific projects that the Rotary Club helps to fund, such as a Veterans Memorial project. The club will donate $15,000 each year to the project for three years. That money, Huckins said, comes from the Ribfest, where the Rotary Club raises $60,000 to $75,000 each year.

Eight professional ribbers will set up and cook at the festival throughout the weekend.

And, in the spirit of the Ribfest, the second annual Lip Smackin' BBQ Smack-Down community cook-off will take place on Sunday, July 13. Preregistered teams will grill their own version of ribs, chicken and pork, Huckins said. Three judges will taste and judge the entries.

"It's always nice to see this kind of an event, this kind of friendly competition, taking place in the community," Huckins said.

The event will also feature live entertainment from major performers like American Idol winner Lee DeWyze and 7th heaven.

Vendors and artisans will be set up throughout the park, and there is also an area for kids to play.

"There's a little bit of everything for everybody," Huckins said.

In the five years that Huckins has been involved in the festival, he said, it has grown and evolved into a communitywide event. The event draws 18,000 to 22,000 people from all across the town and surrounding communities throughout the four days.

"We spend a lot of time on this fundraiser, so bringing the (Rotary) Club members together for the community is great," Huckins said.

Firin' Up the Fox

Also hoping to enjoy a successful weekend is Kevin Call, organizer of Shodeen's Firin' Up the Fox BBQ Competition and Festival, which will take place starting at noon on Friday, July 11.

The three-day event, held at the Shodeen lot on the corner of Route 38 and Randall Road in St. Charles, will hold three separate competitions: the Kansas City Barbecue Society contest, where professional barbecue teams will compete; the amateur contest, which targets backyard barbecue enthusiasts; and the Blue Goose Market Kids Q contest, where kids ages 5-15 can cook a pork steak.

All competitions will be blind judged on the taste, the appearance and the tenderness of the meat.

Call said the amateur competition draws the largest number of contestants; more than 50 teams from around Chicago are signed up.

However, his favorite competition is the Kids Q.

"They're given the pork steak and the grill, and they bring everything else that they need," Call said. "Watching them get interviewed as they win their awards, as people are trying to get their secret recipes, is so fun."

Parents can help the kids with fire and knives, but the actually cooking must be done by the kids, Call said.

The kids are split into two different age groups: ages 5-10 and 11-15. Surprisingly, Call said, the younger age group usually scores higher than the older group.

"We don't know why that is, but the kids have a blast," he said.

One way that attendees can participate is through the People's Choice competition, Call said. General admission is free, but for $15, people can taste samples from 18 professional barbecue teams and vote on their favorite.

And, Call said, there will be live barbecue demonstrations during the weekend from local restaurant owners, barbecue chefs and representatives from barbecue stores.

Live music, a carnival and a car show will round out Firin' Up the Fox.

In an effort to give back to the community, the professional barbecue teams will cook 40 extra pork butts to donate to Lazarus House in St. Charles and Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry for the first time.

Attendees can also help; nonperishable items will be collected at the information booth at the festival and donated, Call said.

To put on large festivals focused around food and cooking, it's extremely important to have plenty of volunteers, Huckins said.

"That's probably the most difficult thing -- agonizing over whether we have enough volunteers," Huckins said. "It all comes together, but we need a lot of volunteers to make it happen."

Call said it's important to get the word out to local residents who want to help out.

"We have a lot of volunteer opportunities through this fest," he said.

Both Call and Huckins said the festivals are a great way to bring their respective communities together.

"That's the number one thing: seeing the kids and the community come together for a great weekend," Huckins said.

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