Ribfest's first Romeoville headliner: Nelly

  • Nelly is set to perform after a fireworks show on July 4 at the Exchange Club of Naperville's Ribfest in Romeoville.

    Nelly is set to perform after a fireworks show on July 4 at the Exchange Club of Naperville's Ribfest in Romeoville. Courtesy of Exchange Club of Naperville

Updated 1/22/2020 3:49 PM

Step into your "Air Force Ones" and get ready to "Shake Ya Tailfeather" -- Nelly is coming to the Exchange Club of Naperville's Ribfest.

The St. Louis rapper is set to perform at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 4, after a fireworks show at the festival's new location at the village hall and recreation center in Romeoville.


Nelly's famous summer raps from the early and mid- 2000s are the perfect way to bring a younger crowd to Ribfest as it moves from its longtime home in Naperville's Knoch Park to a town farther south, organizers said.

Tickets are $30 to see the rapper famous for tracks on his "Country Grammar" and "Nellyville" albums from 2000 and 2002 including "Hot in Herre," "E.I.," "Pimp Juice" and "Ride wit Me."

"I love that music -- I think it's fun. I love sharing it with my kids," said Mary Howenstine, director of marketing for Ribfest. "It's really upbeat stuff.

Nelly is also known for collaborations with artists including Florida Georgia Line, Justin Timberlake, Kelly Rowland and Diddy. He follows Pitbull in 2018 and Flo Rida in 2019 as Ribfest's top names of late.

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Staging a headliner as big as Nelly after a fireworks show instead of before is a first for Ribfest, and something Howenstine said organizers expect to be a hit. Romeoville allows festival hours to run one hour later -- until 11 p.m. -- than Naperville did, so Nelly still will have plenty of time to "Work It" and "Move That Body" for crowds during a 90-minute show.

"We've moved him after the fireworks for all those folks that have family and neighborhood get-togethers during the day, they can come to Nelly at night," Howenstine said. "We're pretty excited about that.

Ribfest expects to return many of its "tried-and-true" traveling rib vendors to treat festivalgoers at the Romeoville site.

Organizers also are busy finalizing details for other shows, such as REO Speedwagon and Styx, with guest artist Head East, opening the four-day fest on Thursday, July 2. An opening act for the Nelly show is expected to be announced soon.

Tickets for Nelly's concert at the 33rd annual festival go on sale Jan. 27 at ribfest.net. The Exchange Club of Naperville uses proceeds from the event to support nonprofit organizations that work to end child abuse and domestic violence and has donated more than $17.5 million since 1988.

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