Modified Ribfest planned this year in new Romeoville location

  • Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Exchange Club of Naperville is planning a modified, socially distanced version of Ribfest this summer at its new location in Romeoville.

    Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Exchange Club of Naperville is planning a modified, socially distanced version of Ribfest this summer at its new location in Romeoville. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 3/30/2021 2:39 PM

After the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of last year's Ribfest in what would have been its first run in Romeoville, organizers plan to move forward this summer with a modified version of the popular Fourth of July celebration.

National rib vendors, musical concerts and a fireworks show will remain mainstays of the 33rd annual festival, scheduled for July 1-4 at Romeoville's Deer Crossing Park, 1050 W. Romeo Road, the Exchange Club of Naperville announced Tuesday.

 

But organizers warned the event will have a different look and feel compared to years past -- and not just because of its new venue.

Social distancing will be a top priority, officials said in a news release, with special attention paid to safety protocols, such as adding hand sanitizing stations and ensuring adequate spacing in food and beverage lines. Ticket sales will be limited for crowd control, and concert attendees will be distanced to create a more "private experience," organizers said.

"We are planning for a safe, reduced event while monitoring ongoing restrictions and guidelines," 2021 Ribfest Chairman Bob Black said in a statement. "It's an ongoing examination of the best possible ways to conduct a responsible, secure event that will keep our supporters and attendees as our first priority, as they always have been."

Most headliners planned for the 2020 event are expected to return to this year's Ribfest, organizers said, noting the musical lineup will be announced soon. Last year's schedule, announced before its cancellation, was set to include REO Speedwagon and Styx with Head East, Nelly with Jesse McCartney, and Fitz and The Tantrum with Elle King and Cold War Kids.

One of the largest festivals in the suburbs, Ribfest serves as a fundraiser for charities working to end child abuse and domestic violence, with more than $17.5 million donated toward those causes over the last three decades.

Renovations to its longtime home, Knoch Park in Naperville, forced Ribfest to relocate after the 2019 season. Organizers say they are optimistic this year's event will move forward as planned, marking its first run at Romeoville's village hall and recreation center.

Event details will be updated at www.ribfest.net.

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