How Ribfest organizers are raising funds for charities without a Ribfest

The cancellation of this year's Ribfest doesn't mean there are no fundraising options for the Exchange Club of Naperville.

The club had run its iconic Fourth of July weekend festival in Naperville for 32 years and planned to move it south to Romeoville this summer because of construction at its old home, Knoch Park.

But, as with nearly every festival since March, COVID-19 got in the way and there were no traveling rib vendors or concerts or carnival this year.

The club typically uses Ribfest - its largest annual fundraiser - to generate money to donate to organizations that work to end child abuse and domestic violence. So with those vital causes in mind - and with the effects the pandemic is causing on the home lives of many people at risk of abuse or violence - the Exchange Club is turning to three new efforts to try to bring in funds.

First, the club is asking companies that already had committed dollars toward sponsorship of this year's event to let the club keep some or all of the money as a donation.

Exchange Club members are "heartened to recognize some initial positive feedback" from sponsors and ticketholders who are making donations instead of seeking full refunds, the organization said in a news release. The club recognized Navistar, Nathan's Famous Beef Franks, Wintrust Community Banks, Anheuser-Busch and McGil Services for donating portions of their Ribfest 2020 sponsorship funds back to the cause.

Anyone who makes a donation of at least $35 out of their ticket purchase of sponsorship will receive a face mask with a Ribfest logo as a thank you, the club said.

The Exchange Club, which has donated more than $18 million since its founding in 1987, also is planning for two new fundraisers this year to help fill in what could have been raised if Ribfest went on as usual.

In the first, supporters can buy a $20 "American Strong" garden flag at Oswald's Pharmacy, 88 W. Gartner Road in Naperville, while supplies last.

The second new fundraiser is an event - a car scavenger hunt called Around Naperville - scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22, at Up North Ale House, 1591 North Aurora Road, Naperville.

Entrance into the hunt is $25 per car until Aug. 19, available at Signing up the day of the event costs $30 per vehicle.

The hunt involves driving around the Naperville area between Ogden Avenue on the north, Wehrli Road on the east, 95th Street on the south and Route 59 on the west, following roughly 25 clues to find various locations. Participants will earn points toward potential prizes by answering questions, taking selfies from their vehicles and collecting tokens at a few stops along the way.

The event concludes at Up North Ale House as well, where prizes will be awarded.

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