Lake in the Hills Rockin' Ribfest adds carnival to its lineup of food and music
Rockin' Ribfest, now in its 14th year of serving up ribs and live music in Lake in the Hills, is upping its game. When the festival opens on Thursday, July 11, visitors will see a new attraction -- a carnival.
"This is the first year for a carnival," said Steve Swanson of West Dundee, a charter member of the Lake in the Hills Rotary Club and the public relations chairman for the event.
"We've been wanting one for some years, and finally we've made arrangements so that we can have an additional amenity for our community. It's a great partnership for us to have and everyone stays a little longer and bring their kids out."
The decision to add a carnival was due to feedback, according to Jim Wales, Rotary Club president.
"We heard from a lot of the past attendees that they wanted something they could do with their kids to participate," Wales said.
"Over the year, we've tried a small carnival with the kiddie rides. Years ago we tried a petting zoo. Carnivals are pretty successful as far as giving kids somewhere to go."
Despite the addition of a carnival, which will certainly delight the young and the young at heart, Rockin' Ribfest is pretty straightforward about what an attendee can expect.
"Ribs, music and now a carnival," said Swanson.
There are eight barbecue vendors this year from far and wide, giving those who attend a reason to come with a big appetite.
"We want to provide choices at the festival," said Wales.
The participating vendors are Pigfoot BBQ & Rib Co. of Mentor, Ohio; Texas Outlaw BBQ of Elizabethtown, Kentucky; Cowboy BBQ & Rib Co. of Fort Worth, Texas; Hog Wild BBQ of Olive Hill, Kentucky; Armadillo's BBQ of Atlanta, Georgia; Mojos Rib Shack of New Franklin, Ohio; After Hours BBQ of Orville, Ohio; and Fine Smoke BBQ of Columbus, Ohio.
The Rotary Club will be selling corn, and another vendor, Dr. Vegetable by K and M, will offer fried vegetables, fried mozzarella and corn dogs.
There are also 30 local artisans to visit while walking off some of those calories.
As far as the music goes, Swanson expects rave reviews from attendees.
"The music this year is going to be top notch," he said. "There's Sister Hazel, who's our headliner for Saturday, and Friday there's Draw the Line, which is a tribute band to Aerosmith. They are actually sanctioned by Aerosmith."
Sister Hazel is an alt-rock band out of Gainesville, Florida, that had a national hit, "All For You," on the Adult Contemporary charts in 1994.
Other headliners include Led Zeppelin tribute Kashmir on Friday and Haulin' Oats, a tribute to Hall & Oates, on Sunday.
As always, the event is held to fund various charities through the Lake in the Hills Rotary Club.
"We funded the Frisbee golf course, we were a major sponsor for the Veterans Memorial," Wales said. "We've contributed to the township food pantry. We do hands-on projects. We give scholarships to graduating seniors. Every year we choose a goal, and this year is enhancing our scholarship program."
"We're very proud of the money that goes to the community," Swanson said.
Both Swanson and Wales wanted to give their thanks to the often unsung heroes of the event: the volunteers. According to Wales, there are more than 200 volunteers working at this year's festival.
"We can't do it without the volunteers. Community helping community is great," Swanson said.
Lake in the Hills Rockin' RibfestWhen: 4:30 to 11 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 11-12; 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, July 13; and 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, July 14
Where: Sunset Park, 5200 Miller Road, Lake in the Hills
Admission: $7-$10; free for kids 12 and younger when accompanied by a paying adult
Details: (847) 742-3378 or www.lithribfest.com.