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BBQ Tour Stop #10: Naperville, IL

July 12, 2010

2010 Naperville Exchange Club’s Ribfest Recap

This was the third year of visiting the Naperville Exchange Club’s Ribfest in Illinois. The event is held in Knoch Park and had a whole new layout this year. The KCBS Great American BBQ Tour has always been by the North entrance but this year we were smack dab in the middle of the event.  That meant when people walked the grounds, they inevitably had to walk by the trailer and our huge blow-up KCBS flame.

With this being our third year, we have made plenty of friends/fellow BBQ enthusiasts that come back year after year to see Chris and me at events. Two years ago, I threw my back out in Naperville and met “Wolfman” John who “cracked” me back into form.  John brought his wife again this year and it was great to visit. Joey Mac stopped by again and shared how the Exchange Club, who organizes the Ribfest, donates to dozens of charities and groups including his daughter’s high school band. We also were fortunate to meet Dave Raymond, who created Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, and had a great time visiting about BBQ, mutual friends and how much work these “ribbers” go through to provide food to the thousands of event attendees. Since the Naperville area is home for Weber Seasonings, our good friend, Dawn Molski from Weber, stopped by for pictures and brought her daughter out on the weekend.

The weather on Thursday and Friday could not have been better with temperatures in the low 80’s, which helped bring out the people. Early estimates had an increase in attendance of at least 20,000 people over last year’s numbers. Saturday night the organizers even started shutting down the site due to capacity issues.

This was our second event that included Redwood Creek Wines so we had an expanded footprint and long lines of people sampling wine. On Sunday, the Fourth of July, storms were coming up from the southwest but they stayed away for most of the day. Finally we had a quick burst of showers that cooled down the event site and set the stage for a beautiful night of fireworks.

One funny story was a couple who came out on Thursday and picked up one of our sample bags that included seasoning packages, SCOTT towel samples, tour booklets, Master of Mixes magnets, coupons, etc. People will often pick up additional samples and these folks sure did.  They even came back on Sunday and told us they used four of the Master of Mixes coupons for “buy one, get one free” Bloody Mary’s! Sure enough, they picked up more coupons on Sunday!

As we were passing out food samples, Butch with Butch’s Smack Your Lips BBQ stopped by and since he has won numerous “people’s choice” contests at these rib events, he drew a crowd! It was great to see Butch stop by our neighbors – the Naperville Police and Fire Department booth to visit. Those folks were kept busy over the weekend as crowds and temperatures soared. They did a fantastic job and we enjoyed their dedication to their jobs.

The funniest quote of the weekend came from one of the officers. As we cooked Weber’s Kick’n Chicken each morning for sampling, people thought we were cooking turkey breasts as the Sam’s Club chicken breasts were HUGE! As the officer stepped out of his car, he commented “There’s my friend with the impressive breasts”.  I thought I was going to bust a gut laughing so hard.

Mike (and Chris) Peters

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