'Salute' in works to replace Ribfest as Naperville's Fourth of July celebration
There won't be a Ribfest next Fourth of July in Naperville, but there will be a Salute.
Leaders of the nonprofit organization Naperville Responds For Veterans are planning a two-day festival, called Naperville's Salute: Honoring Our Hometown Heroes, to help the city celebrate Independence Day as the long-standing Ribfest moves south to Romeoville.
Naperville's Salute is in the works for Friday and Saturday, July 3 and 4, and it's designed as "a hometown festival that's coming back to hometown roots," event co-chairman Warren Dixon III of Naperville Responds said.
"It's a very family-friendly, low-cost event that's centered around the veterans and first responders and their families," Dixon said.
The Salute is set to take place at Rotary Hill, with a fun and craft area at Naper Settlement and a food truck festival in the Naperville Unit District 203 parking lot just south of the Settlement at Webster Street and Porter Avenue.
None of the new event is planned for Knoch Park -- the Ribfest site for 31 of its 32 years in town. The park is undergoing work to build a new softball field and a multipurpose turf field, which required Ribfest to move out after its 2019 event finished last month.
Naperville's Salute will conclude with a fireworks show, Dixon said, and will entertain crowds with a lineup of "more local-based" bands than the national acts Ribfest has been known to draw during much of its 32-year run.
Dixon is planning the new event along with Herm Schneider, the Chicago White Sox's head athletic trainer emeritus. So expect the White Sox organization to be involved as well, Dixon said.
Festival planners are working with the city and Naperville Park District on logistics, traffic and parking plans, shuttle buses and the fireworks show, and an application for funding through the city's Special Events and Cultural Amenities grant program has been submitted.
Dixon said he expects Aurora Avenue will be partially blocked for the Salute, but otherwise, the event should create "limited" road closures.
Mayor Steve Chirico said the Salute plan has bubbled to the surface amid talk of a few other options for a hometown Fourth of July festival.
He said it's good to know Naperville residents will have somewhere in town to gather and celebrate the Fourth, and a way to do so without as much disruption to traffic and nearby neighborhood life.
"That will be noticeable and appreciated by everybody," Chirico said.
Organizers of Naperville's Salute plan to release more information about the event beginning in September.