Organizers again cancel Ribfest in Romeoville

Exchange Club of Naperville cites concerns with public health restrictions

For the second year in a row, the organizers of Ribfest canceled plans to bring the event to Romeoville, citing concerns over accommodating public safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Exchange Club of Naperville, which holds the event, said in a news release on Tuesday that it has spent the past few months trying to assess all factors in regard to its plans for Ribfest which expected to be held on the July 4 weekend.

The Exchange Club explained in the release, “In consideration of the ongoing COVID-19 conditions and recently mandated capacity restrictions, the Club has concluded that it cannot reasonably guarantee health, safety, and success for such a large-scale public event that occurs in the early portion of the summer festival schedule and is thus susceptible to the instability of COVID-related conditions like capacity restrictions.”

Bob Black, the 2021 Ribfest chairman, and Jerry Kochurka, the president of the Exchange Club of Naperville, said in a joint statement they were, “greatly disappointed that circumstances have left us unable to responsibly and in good conscience hold Ribfest this year, or put our funding or any future Ribfest at risk.”

Historically, Ribfest has attracted thousands of people from outside of Naperville, part of the reason why Romeoville wanted to host the event.

In 2019, the Exchange Club of Naperville announced it would move Ribfest to Romeoville while its usual site in Naperville underwent construction.

Musical artists such as Nelly and Jesse McCartney were scheduled to perform at Ribfest in Romeoville last year. But as the novel coronavirus spread throughout the country, Ribfest organizers announced last spring the event would be canceled and rescheduled for this year.

Since the first Ribfest was held in 1988, the Exchange Club of Naperville has raised more than $17 million for agencies focused on combating abuse and domestic violence.

Supporters of the Exchange Club’s cause can still make a tax-deductible donation. For more information, visit ribfest.net.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.