Ribfest grounds close, reopen again; Pitbull concert, fireworks are on
The Ribfest grounds in Naperville were shut down about 4:45 p.m. Thursday, marking the fourth such weather-related closure in two days.
Knoch Park reopened for the festival at 6:15 p.m.. A concert by Pitbull at 8:30 p.m. followed by fireworks at 10 p.m. at 724 S. West St. are still on.
All the closures prompted organizers to lower prices for Friday and Saturday. They said general access fees were rolled back; the Friday night concert featuring Jake Owen, Chris Janson and Jordan Davis is now $30; and the Saturday night concert featuring Steven Tyler and the Loving Mary Band is now $50.
Festival organizers were posting updates about the show on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ribfestnaperville/.
All this comes after lightning brightened the sky Wednesday instead of fireworks in Aurora, Batavia and Naperville, and as some event organizers are announcing plans to reschedule their pyrotechnic shows.
Batavia's Sky Concert fireworks are scheduled to begin about 9 tonight at Main Street and Millview Drive.
And Aurora announced plans Thursday afternoon to reschedule its fireworks for 9 p.m. Friday, July 27, visible from RiverEdge Park at 360 N. Broadway and McCullough Park at 128 W. Illinois Ave.
"We'll come back together in a few weeks and enjoy a wonderful Friday evening watching the fireworks," Mayor Richard Irvin said in a news release posted to the city's Facebook page.
Event organizers said they watched Wednesday's inclement weather carefully before deciding to call off their displays for safety reasons.
During opening day of the 31st annual Ribfest in Naperville, event Chairman Joel Carlsen said two on-site meteorologists helped determine the necessity of two park closures -- from 5:40 to 7:30 p.m. and again just after 8:30 p.m. -- as well as the cancellation of the fireworks.
"We were very aware the storms had dangerous elements to them. Our first concern was for the safety of our patrons," Carlsen said. "While it was not our desire to evacuate the park, it became very apparent that the storms could be, and had been, extremely dangerous and life-threatening."
The same was the case about 1:30 p.m. Thursday, when the fest closed for a fast-moving storm. It reopened about 3 p.m. just to close again less than two hours later.
Ribfest's fireworks still are set to begin after a main stage concert by Pitbull, and Carlsen said tickets are still available for the show, starting at $60.
Just as organizers did Wednesday, they plan to offer free admission to the south side of the park once it reopens for people who just want to catch the pyrotechnics display.
Officials with the Sky Concert in Batavia had hosted food trucks and bands since 5 p.m. Wednesday, but they noticed many members of a crowd numbering between 5,000 and 10,000 were getting nervous and leaving the event as lightning appeared across the sky.
Organizer Mark Davis said it was a game-time decision not to launch the fireworks immediately before they were scheduled to ignite.
Now he's inviting residents to stop by at 9 p.m. tonight to see the half-hour show. Parking is free and a few food vendors may show up, but there will not be any musical performances, Davis said.