It's official: Ribfest leaving Naperville for Romeoville

  • Naperville's longtime Ribfest celebration is moving to Romeoville. Village and Exchange Club of Naperville officials made the deal official this week.

    Naperville's longtime Ribfest celebration is moving to Romeoville. Village and Exchange Club of Naperville officials made the deal official this week. Daily Herald file photo

Updated 8/22/2019 3:54 PM

The longtime Ribfest celebration that helped put Naperville on the map officially has a new home in Romeoville.

The event is set to take place on four consecutive days around July 4, 2020, at Romeoville village hall and the Romeoville recreation center, where Ribfest organizers plan to bring a lineup of top musical performers and traveling rib vendors.


The festival, which over its 32-year run became one of the largest and best known in the suburbs, needed to move out of its Naperville home at Knoch Park beginning next year because of park construction projects.

Organizers with the Exchange Club of Naperville looked at 22 potential sites and said they were pleased to choose nearby Romeoville.

"It is a little farther, but it's in our neighborhood," Executive Director Rick Grimes said.

A resolution the Romeoville village board adopted Wednesday night made a pact between the municipality and the Exchange Club official, and will allow the rest of Ribfest 2020 planning to begin.

Mayor John Noak said hosting the event will be an honor in the village of nearly 40,000 people that proves "where our community has come."

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Village officials care about the Exchange Club's mission of fighting child abuse and domestic violence, Noak said. The club has donated $17.5 million to more than 50 charities that work to advance the cause.

"It's really exciting to have top-tier entertainment in your own backyard," Noak said. "But it's also very special to know you're doing it for such a great cause."

As part of the agreement, Romeoville residents will have the chance to buy discounted main stage entertainment tickets 72 hours before the general public. Additionally, Romeoville residents will not be charged a general admission fee on the day of the fireworks show.

The village and club leaders now are working on traffic, parking and security plans.

Noak said the majority of festivalgoers will park in thousands of spots at remote lots, then access the event via shuttle buses. The remote lots will be situated so they are convenient for people attending Ribfest from all directions, he said.


Ribfest's plan to move to Romeoville has been public since April.

"We look forward to forging a successful partnership with Romeoville for Ribfest 2020 and beyond," Bob Black, Ribfest 2020 chairman, said in a news release.

Finalization of the move was no surprise to Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico.

"I think it sounds like they have a good, mutually beneficial event space," Chirico said. "I hope it works out great for them."

Ribfest's move will allow Naperville Responds For Veterans to move forward with plans for a new Fourth of July event called Naperville's Salute: Honoring Our Hometown Heroes.

And it will allow the Exchange Club to network within a new community of sponsors and volunteers, further spreading its mission, Grimes said.

All vendors and volunteer organizations interested in Ribfest should visit for details early next year.

Romeoville officials said RomeoFest will be unaffected by the arrival of Ribfest and will celebrate its 30th anniversary in August of 2020.

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