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Jul 1, 2007 03:19 PM

Naperville Ribfest - Stay Away This Year

Regardless of how you may have felt about the rib preparation here in the past, it doesn't matter this year. Since the event includes a competition, all of the vendors start with the same meat and this year it is different than before. The ribs they're using result in a uniformly mealy product. After trying 4 vendors I gave up and went home.

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  1. I've been going to Ribfest nearly every year for ages. I've always gotten mediocre cooked ribs from this event. I go there to taste the different sauces :)

    Also...Friday during the day is a great time to go to Naperville RibFest. Most people are at work and the place is fairly empty until about 3:00pm. By the time the crowds start coming...I've already got a full belly :)


    3 Replies
    1. re: gonefishin

      The Ribfest only goes through the 4th, so if you go on Friday you definitely will find the place empty. (Perhaps you meant during the day on the 3rd?) At any rate, I agree that, if you're going to go, the best time to go is during the day. However, Ribfest has gotten so huge and crowded that we typically avoid it. It's a real shame, because I can remember when Ribfest was a nice community event (on the hill, across the Aurora Street)...It has evolved into something that has crowds and lines like you'd see at Taste of Chicago.

      1. re: RMA

        Hi RMA...

        I had actually meant that Friday during the day, any year, is a great time to attend the ribfest. Lines for the food are short and all the kids activities have small lines as well. I understand that the large crowds and bands are why alot of people go. But if your not one of those may want to look into Friday day :)


        1. re: gonefishin

          My point was that the Ribfest did not fall on a Friday this year. It started on Saturday and ran through yesterday.

    2. I am one who typically enjoys any excuse to get out on a nice sunny day, and drink some beer, and enjoy a festival. I however have stopped going to Ribfest. The last time I went(3 years ago) everything was a freebie, and food, beer,admission, etc. was comped by one of their sponsors. Even when it was free I did not enjoy the ribs. As an former longtime resident of Naperville(35 years), I enjoy coming back to my old stomping grounds, but rarely make Ribfest the reason to return.

      This year my wife, and I discussed going(for about 2 mins before coming to my senses), and bringing our baby for a nice Saturday out, but once I did the math.. $10 each for my wife and myself for admission, and about $20 worth of gas for a roundtrip from Marseilles I would have already spent $40 without even having anything to eat or drink.

      Solution, we statyed out west, went to a restaurant in Lasalle, and had a couple of drinks in the sun, and then went to Ron's Cajun Connection in Utica for dinner. We came out way ahead in food, and also way ahead in respect to our wallets.

      1. That is bizarre! Are the cooking methods, rubs and sauces so much alike that the equalized meat factor would cause that? This really sounds very improbable.

        I will say that last year, buying 4 bones for $8 got to be pretty expensive, very quickly and that only one or two of the vendors were really good.

        I also remember that I was bummed that the MO. "Super Smokers" team had canx right before the event, those guys rock!

        1. I go to Ribfest for the music and friends that meet up there. I've eaten some good ribs there through the years and there are also some alternatives to ribs (Heaven on Seven and Angelis). And there are a lot more than 4 rib vendors at Ribfest. Here are the best in competition this year. For those who still may be going these may be your best bets:

          Uncle Bub's of Westmont, Ill. won the title of best ribs
          Famous Daves of Plymouth, Minn. took second place
          Armadillo's of Youngstown, Ohio placed third.

          Armadillo's took first place in best sauce
          Uncle Bub's took second place in the sauce category
          Sgt. Oink's BBQ Co. of Tiffin, Ohio took third place.

          Looks Like Uncle Bub's might be THE one to try. Hope you have fun if you go. I'm going tonight (and maybe again on the 4th)

          1. Yes, there are a lot more than four rib vendors, but when you look above at the "best of" list above, why would you put up with the cost, mess and trouble to eat Famous Dave's ribs? They have a restaurant on Ogden and the ribs are not that great. The Ribfest used to be fun but has now turned into a ribcentric clone of the Taste of Chicago.
            A friend and I had a moment of weakness and talked about going but decided not to. We fondly remembered signing a waiver at Ribfest one time to eat ribs with super hot sauce. We thought it was a gimmick to get our info for a mailing list, Lo and behold, they put almost pure essence of capisan in the sauce. It was like eating tear gas.
            Ribfest reminds me that it is time to take a road trip to KC or Memphis.

            3 Replies
            1. re: fryrose

              Well, I had a good time last night. We did go and get ribs at Uncle Bub's and I must say they were VERY good. It's not an easy task feeding hundreds (or thousands?) of people a day and I think they did a exceptional job and they are DEFINITELY worth trying. The crowds were fairly light being that a lot of people had to work today. Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of people there, but they weren't crowded in. There was space available to get around. It would be a shame if you didn't go ONLY because you didn't like the ribs there. There's a lot more to do than just eat ribs at Ribfest.

              1. re: janybird

                Thank you, janybird. So many of the responses here seem to miss the point. My wife and kids have gone to Ribfest for the past 3 or 4 years because it is a great time for the children. Sure, its called Ribfest, and there are ribs to be purchased. But anyone who expects to attend a festival with the goal of drawing thousands of people really should not expect exceptional food... I've had some decent ribs at Ribfest, but considering the cooking conditions, the quantity that have to be prepared and the general fest attendee - quality is not going to be the primary concern.

                If you've got young kids (< 12), they are going to have a great time at Ribfest. They usually have a petting zoo, an arts/craft tent, inflatable jumping attractions, toys, fire engines, clowns, etc... If you don't have kids, and don't like crowds, and are concerned about overpaying for mass-produced county fair-type food, why would you even consider attending such an event? Looking forward to the fireworks tomorrow. Naperville consistently has a nice show.

                1. re: SweetEd

                  That I would sure agree with! great points.

                  It is a fun time for the family and kids :)