And the Winner of Naperville Ribfest 2007 is…

… anyone who had a chance to attend and enjoy the world class BBQ, entertainment and plenty of fun for all ages. 

Having attended Ribfest each year since our move to Naperville, there is always that moment as my family and I have consumed one too many ribs sitting around in a circle of portable lawn chairs reflecting upon the true winners of Ribfest… us. 

Today, my family and I made our annual pilgrimage to the transformed grounds of Naperville Central High School to celebrate an institution which is near and dear to my family’s heart… barbeque.  Simply put, for those who know anything about the cooking process, true barbeque is art.  As politically incorrect as it may sound nowadays, you can say my brother, sister and I grew up with “smoke in our lungs” back in Kentucky with a father who transformed his own passion for the slow smoked decadence into a restaurant called the BBQ Pit when we were kids.  Though the BBQ Pit closed it’s doors many years ago, the love for barbeque has endured even after my father’s death.  Most notably, my brother and I have taken on our father’s traditional smoked meat and sauce recipe and have created our own variations.  When we get together, we can sit and talk for hours about the perfect cut of meat, rub, the mop sauce, the grill setup and the many hours enjoyed watching the smoke fill the air (for the record, I have recently ditched my firebox grill in exchange for a modified setup on my weber grill which works perfectly… no electric smoker units for this purist.. I can’t say so much for my brother).  We’ve also talked for years about opening our own restaurant but am not sure how that would work knowing he would never be able to drag me away from Naperville and I will never be able to draw him away from Kentucky.

For now there is Ribfest to celebrate and enjoy.  Ironically, last year’s 1st place rib winner, Texas Outlaw, is based in my hometown of Elizabethtown, Kentucky.  Needless to say, we go through E-town a couple of times a year and always drop by for some barbeque.  My father would be proud that an E-town-based barbeque restaurant has gained such acclaim.  Unfortunately, Texas Outlaw did not place this year.  Nonetheless, they were present and we certainly enjoyed our share of those wonderful ribs.

I believe I overhead someone say that Ribfest is in its 20th year and anyone who has attended a recent Ribfest can see the Exchange Club has its act together.  Ribfest is something all Napervillians can be proud of for the professional and unique experience it provides regardless of whether your taste is for barbeque, midway rides, music, kids attractions or simply enjoying a nice summer day during the 4th of July holiday. 

The Naperville Exchange Club has done a terrific job of not only producing such and event but doing so for a wonderful cause.  As you may or may not know, the Naperville Exchange Club helps provide funding for over 40 organizations dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence through proceeds from Ribfest and other fundraising efforts.  We also cannot overlook the thousands of volunteers who work to make Ribfest a success each year.  If you would like to learn more about Ribfest, visit their website at www.ribfest.net .  To learn more about the Naperville Exchange Club, visit www.exchangeclub.org

Finally, Ribfest casts a great big spotlight on our community each year as attendees come from far and wide to experience the smokey spectacle.  As I stood in line for ribs today, I overheard others from as far away as Florida.  Though my brother and his family joined us last year for Ribfest, this year they were back in Kentucky and I couldn’t resist giving him a ring to “rub it in” as I laid upon the ground atop a blanket attempting to recover from my rib overload.  We used the time on the phone to plot a master plan to get them back up to Naperville for Ribfest 2008… I can hardly wait!

Congratulations to Uncle Bubs for winning the coveted first place rib trophy this year. 

As for my own personal favorites this year, I would give first place for ribs to Butch’s Smack Your Lips BBQ with Uncle Bubs coming in a close second .  For sauce, I just can’t resist Uncle Bub’s… there is definitely something citrus-like going on within that rich red goodness.  Fortunate for all of us, Uncle Bubs is just down the road in Westmont.  Check out their website at www.unclebubs.com and make a plan to drop by at any point in the year for some of their wonderful barbeque.  

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