Admission to the wonderland of ribs, carnival rides, family fun and business booths that is Ribfest in Naperville is getting less expensive this year.
But the $5 admission fee for the south side of the grounds won't include a ticket to see the main stage concerts, such as Jake Owen and Chris Janson on July 6, or Steven Tyler and the Loving Mary Band on July 7.
Organizers with the Exchange Club of Naperville said they are lowering non-concert admission prices to make the festival accessible to a wider base of people who might want to celebrate summer with some pulled pork or a slab of barbecue goodness.
"We're hopeful for larger attendance," said Rick Grimes, executive director of the festival, which is planning for its 31st year.
Ribfest tickets in recent years have run $15 to $40, depending on the performer. Kids 11 and younger have gotten in for free with a paying adult and will remain so this summer, said Joel Carlsen, Ribfest chairman.
People who buy $5 admission to only the south side of Knoch Park at 724 S. West St. will be able to upgrade if they decide they'd like to see a show, organizers said.
Tickets for Friday's performers start at $30. General admission for Saturday's Steven Tyler show starts at $50. For tickets ordered online, there is a fee that varies based on the ticket price.
All tickets this year will be RFID wristbands using a radio frequency identification technology that implants a small chip into a device to track information.
Grimes said the wristbands will serve two main purposes at this year's festival, which runs July 4-7.
First, they'll be scanned to allow access to the park. Those who buy tickets in advance at ribfest.net will be mailed their wristbands, for a $5.30 fee. Those who buy tickets after a mailing cutoff date can pick them up at a will-call window. Grimes said additional wristbands will be available at each gate for walk-up purchasers.
The wristbands also can replace traditional payment for tech savvy festivalgoers who want to buy food or beer.
"People can use an account if they've set it up instead of cash or a credit card," Grimes said. The account is tied to a credit card.
With the advent of the RFID wristbands, Ribfest won't sell beverage tickets this year. People who want to buy drinks can get in one line to have their wristband scanned, or another to pay with cash. Beers will be sold in 16-ounce cans at the majority of the tents; only tents near the front of the main stage will use plastic cups.
"Last year we had some challenges with customer service, with long lines, and that's really what we're trying to address," Grimes said.
The hope is that having volunteers crack open a can will be quicker than pouring each beer from a keg. The cans also will be recyclable, an environmental step up from the cups, Grimes said.