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Saturday, July 13, 2024

The Next Generation – The last (Naperville) Ribfest


This month marks the end of an era. The Knoch Park Ribfest era in Naperville, to be precise. Ribfest has been held in Knoch Park since 1989 – basically as long as I can remember. (The first Ribfest was at Rotary Hill.) The last 10-15 years of Ribfest have been unbelievably crowded, so I can’t be totally upset with the move. Parking aside, Ribfest has had some amazing bands and artists over the years.

Let’s talk about the best part of Ribfest: the music! Ribfest gets the best festival bands and acts in the country, year after year. There is a reason why the ‘fest is so popular. The first act I remember bits and pieces of seeing was Three Dog Night in 1994. This was right around the time I started listening to my own music, so I wasn’t super into it.

A few years later (and after realizing my dad actually listens to some good music) I remember seeing Pat Benatar in 1998, the first artist I can recall specific songs from. “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” anyone? Foreigner in 2002 was great, as was Blondie in 2003.

From 2005-2010, I worked the Illinois Lottery Booth at Ribfest, selling tickets to festivalgoers. This allowed me to have an air-conditioned booth facing the main stage for three years. Ted Nugent, David Lee Roth, Blue Öyster Cult, REO Speedwagon, The Doobie Brothers, Heart, Sammy Hagar, and Huey Lewis and the News were among some of the headliners I saw. That is an impressive list!

Bands I regret not seeing include ZZ Top, Joe Walsh, the Steve Miller Band, George Thorogood & the Destroyers, The Wallflowers, Steven Tyler, and Pitbull. If you just thought “these are all recent Ribfest acts,” congratulations! They are. Living a block from downtown Naperville has its perks – I can hear the music clearly from my house and avoid the crowds!

Maybe I’ll end my Naperville Ribfest story with Billy Idol… it’s too bad that after this summer Ribfest in Naperville is no MORE, MORE, MORE!

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Wil Anderson
Wil Andersonhttps://oswaldspharmacy.com/
Wil Anderson is a lifelong Naperville resident and manager at Oswald's Pharmacy in Naperville Plaza.