10 top activities to enjoy at Naperville's Ribfest
Every Fourth of July festival has a lot of competition.
There's the pool. The backyard barbecue. The beach. The movies. A road trip.
But Ribfest in Naperville puts up a strong fight with plenty of ways to stay entertained.
Here are 10 of the top activities to try during the four-day festival, aside from the obvious choices of eating ribs and jamming out to concerts. Catering to families, these options offer fun from noon to 10 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, July 4 through 7, at Knoch Park, 724 S. West St., where Ribfest organizers from the Exchange Club will stage the event's 31st year.
Rides or else
A carnival in the south section of the park is a highlight for the young and the thrill-seeking alike. Kids 11 and younger get into the carnival for free, and for everyone else, admission costs $5. Ride passes are sold individually or in three bracelet options -- a $15 pass for unlimited rides between noon and 3 p.m. on one specific day; a $30 pass for unlimited rides anytime on one specific day; or a $75 megapass for unlimited rides anytime during the festival.
Bounce out energy
Jumping Jacks and Jills, step right up! Inside the family area in the south section of the park, free bounce houses and games from Bounce City and Nathan's Famous Beef Franks will be at the ready from noon to 8 p.m. daily.
Make it magic
Want to be amazed? Check out a magic show by Balster's Magic Production Inc. at 1:30, 3:30 or 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 5, or Friday, July 6. The company also offers the Kids Buck Game Show at 1:30, 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 4, and Saturday, July 7.
Featuring eight young adults with special needs, the True Colors Show Choir is set to perform Broadway tunes at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 4. Carla DeFlorio, program administrator of Artful Impact, which organizes the choir, said the performance features the sparkle and dazzle of show choir as it showcases the talents of participants who know what it's all about: "The joy of singing."
A corny challenge
Back by popular demand! Last year, Challenge Butter hosted three corn-on-the-cob eating contests, no hands allowed. This year, the company is hosting four such contests -- one every day at 4:30 p.m. on the south stage.
Enjoy the crowd
Prepare to be among thousands crisscrossing the baseball diamonds and outfields of Knoch Park during the festival. And be on the lookout for patriotic pride, colorful clothing choices, superfans wearing band T-shirts and veterans riding all-terrain wheelchairs called "VETANKS."
Score some samples
The Ribfest sponsor list is a long one, and many participating businesses have a presence in the south park expo, promising free snacks and other small samples.
Count the trophies
Ribber row at Ribfest is always a display of winnings past. Traveling rib vendors from the likes of Ohio, Minnesota, Kentucky, Georgia and Virginia are sure to set up their shiny trophies and bright banners to draw customers' attention.
Learn the winners
If eating the ribs deemed the best sounds appealing, find out which of 11 ribbers boast the best ribs, best sauce and kids' choice honors during an awards ceremony at 3 p.m. Friday, July 6, on the south stage.
Fourth of July fireworks will cap off Ribfest's opening day with a bang this year. The show is scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m. To claim a spot, score free entrance to the south section of the park after 5 p.m. P.S.: That's where all 11 ribbers are, too.
RibfestNaperville's Ribfest runs from noon to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, July 4 to 7, in Knoch Park, West Street at Martin Avenue.
Eleven ribbers will compete in three categories; national touring acts will be featured on the main stage with local acts on a second stage; a free family area offers activities and entertainment; business expo; daily carnival; fireworks on July 4.
Main stage entertainment includes Stray Cats and Melissa Etheridge on July 4; Pitbull on July 5; Jake Owen, Chris Janson and Jordan Davis on July 6; and Steven Tyler and the Loving Mary Band on July 7.
Concert tickets with full-park access are $45 for July 4 and 6, $60 for July 5, and $75 for July 7. Four-day full-park general admission tickets are $125. VIP and upgrade packages are available; carnival wristbands are available. Admission to the South Park only, with access to ribs, carnival and family area but not main stage entertainment, is $5 daily and free after 5 p.m. July 4.