BBQ Tour Stop #10: Naperville, ILJuly 7, 2011
Sometimes it is hard to come up with new and exciting things to write about after four years at the same event. Lucky for us, the Naperville Ribfest keeps getting bigger and better each year!
This year the entertainment was fantastic as REO Speedwagon and Styx headlined the main stage on the first two nights of the event. This brought back great memories and large crowds to Knoch Park in Naperville.
Last year the police and fire department were next to us, this year Window World got to hear our daily demonstrations. They brought out the custom made St. Jude’s Orange County Chopper theme bike, which they started up a couple of times each day as they were raising donations for St. Jude’s. That sure gathered the crowds!
The Rib Vendors who serve food to the thousands of people who attend the event were still divided on the grounds but when we had a chance to walk around, both sides had nice lines of people. We even got to spend some time with Sweet Baby Ray himself – Dave Raymond! What a great guy who still has a great love of BBQ and even competes in KCBS contests with his nephew.
New this year was a 48’ tractor trailer which had both sides laid out as stages while Chefs from America’s Chefs did cooking demonstrations throughout the weekend. Even though they were under a tent, a couple of their folks were overtaken by the heat. Speaking of heat, while it was not as hot on the grounds as last year, there was little wind and as a first in our four years in Naperville, there was no rain during the event!
One nice thing about coming back to the same event year after year is the great friends met that come out to see us each year. “Wolfman” John and his wife Janice stopped by along with five or six other couples that we have met over the years eager to see the new sponsors and demonstration. We also got to spend some quality time with Dawn and her daughter from Weber Seasonings who has been a tour partner since year one!
One interesting thing happened that we had not come across yet on the tour. With this being a four day event, we had to make multiple trips to Sam’s Club to restock on meat and supplies for sampling and demonstrations. With the 4th of July on Monday, we picked up product on Thursday for Friday and Saturday and had planned to stop in early Sunday morning to get us through Sunday and Monday’s activities. This was our first Sunday early morning shopping trip and we were not aware that Sunday opening hour was not until 10 a.m. We needed to be onsite and setting up by 10 a.m. so we were in quite a pickle. Lucky for us, we had met the store manager during our original pick-up and he said to “call if we needed anything” so we took him up on his offer and he allowed us to enter early and shop away. Sam’s Club is busy once open, but super busy with employees restocking prior to opening. Big thanks to the Naperville Sam’s Club manager Rico and his entire staff for taking care of us in a time of need!