Toby Keith cancellation forces Ribfest organizers to scramble for replacement

  • Johnson's BBQ from Chesapeake, Virginia, will return to compete in the Exchange Club of Naperville's Ribfest at its new location at the DuPage Event Center & Fairgrounds in Wheaton starting Friday.

    Johnson's BBQ from Chesapeake, Virginia, will return to compete in the Exchange Club of Naperville's Ribfest at its new location at the DuPage Event Center & Fairgrounds in Wheaton starting Friday. Daily Herald File Photo, 2019

  • Toby Keith announced Sunday that he is undergoing treatment for stomach cancer. He has canceled his Ribfest concert set for Friday.

    Toby Keith announced Sunday that he is undergoing treatment for stomach cancer. He has canceled his Ribfest concert set for Friday. Associated Press/Oct. 30, 2021

  • Country music star Brett Eldredge will play Ribfest at the DuPage Event Center & Fairgrounds in Wheaton on Sunday.

    Country music star Brett Eldredge will play Ribfest at the DuPage Event Center & Fairgrounds in Wheaton on Sunday. Associated Press/2018

 
 
Updated 6/13/2022 6:05 PM

Ribfest was on track to make a tasty return Friday following a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But on Sunday, Ribfest organizers received news of country star Toby Keith and his ongoing treatment for stomach cancer. Keith will be canceling most of his summer engagements -- including his opening night Ribfest concert.

 

"We've never had a last-minute cancellation like this, but we are committed to our ticketholders and will honor their support for our mission," said Ribfest chairwoman Bev Schafman in a statement. "There may be some fans who were coming only to see Toby, but we're confident they are going to like what we have to offer."

Pat McDonough, Ribfest's marketing and publicity chair, said organizers are "very, very concerned about Toby's health."

McDonough acknowledged that Ribfest organizers were examining many contingency plans. As of Monday afternoon, Ribfest's website carried an announcement that organizers were "actively seeking a replacement for Toby Keith to join Elle King" and that "instructions for refund requests will be available in the future."

The four-day food and music festival moves to a new venue this year at the DuPage Event Center & Fairgrounds in Wheaton.

Ribfest is the major annual fundraiser for the Exchange Club of Naperville, which works to combat child abuse and domestic violence.

"Call it a bump in the road if you will," said McDonough about Keith's cancellation. "People need to remember what's behind this entire effort."

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Ribfest's other music headliners are the metal band Halestorm and Candlebox on June 18, Brett Eldredge and Ashley McBryde on June 19 and a slew of local bands including 7th Heaven on June 20.

Ribfest also announced the seven "ribbers" that will be competing in its BBQ competition. These include the Batavia-based Salt Creek BBQ and Uncle Bub's BBQ in Westmont, plus out-of-state competitors such as first-time Ribfest visitor Blazin Bronco BBQ from Port Saint Lucie, Florida.

As with past Ribfests, there is free access the food tents and carnival area, but tickets are required for concerts.

"We're keeping our thoughts and our prayers with Toby, and hope that he gets well," McDonough said. "We've talked about doing some sort of on-site tribute or recognition of what he's going through, but we're not sure what form that will be in."

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.