Naperville Park District rejects request to bring Ribfest back to the city

  • The Naperville Park District rejected a proposal to bring Ribfest back to the city. Naperville last hosted the event in 2019 at Knoch Park.

    The Naperville Park District rejected a proposal to bring Ribfest back to the city. Naperville last hosted the event in 2019 at Knoch Park. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, 2019

 
 
Updated 8/27/2021 5:31 PM

Naperville Park District's board of commissioners declined a proposal from the Exchange Club of Naperville to bring Ribfest back to the city.

The two-day event was proposed by Exchange Club representative Beverly Schafman for next June at Frontier Sports Complex on Naperville's south side. But the park commissioners rejected the idea during their Thursday board meeting because it conflicted with the park district's mission to provide "recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community," according to a statement from the district.

 

Park district officials also said the regional event would displace organized and drop-in facility use and result in the loss of revenue during the park district's busiest season. Park District officials estimated the loss of revenue at about $90,000. In addition, it would take several weeks for the turf at the park to recover.

Ribfest, known for its national rib vendors, concerts, carnival and fireworks show, was a regional staple during a 32-year run that last took place in 2019 in Naperville's Knoch Park. Construction at Knoch Park led organizers to find a new home for Ribfest in Romeoville. But city officials and the Exchange Club of Naperville canceled last year and this year's event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When officials announced this year's cancellation in May, a news release noted the beginning of "optimistic planning" for 2022.

Schafman said she recognized the obstacles to hosting the event at Frontier Sports Complex but stressed the Club Exchange's desire to return to Naperville.

"We've since learned there's a lot of challenges in Romeoville, and as an organization we never really wanted to leave Naperville," Schafman said. "We thought since we had the two-year break, let's come back."

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