Chicagoland is famous for many things throughout the Summer: great beaches, outdoor dining, baseball games at Wrigley Field (we don’t talk about that other team)…but my favorite thing about Chicagoland in the Summer are the festivals and fairs.
There’s something about the ferris wheels, tilt-a-whirls, funnel cakes, and silly carnival games that just put a smile on my face. So when Jenn contacted me on behalf of the FlatOut company to see if I wanted to visit the Naperville RibFest as a social media liaison, of course I said yes. A festival? With ribs? Over a holiday weekend? Why wouldn’t I go!? FlatOut is part of the Char-Broil Grill tour, and had a booth at the event!
FlatOut sent me a HUGE thank you package which included more FlatOut wraps, chips, and FoldIts than we could use… but I’m sure we’ll manage.
So yesterday, we hopped in the car and headed down to Naperville, a mere 35 minutes from our house, to Ribfest. We had empty bellies, lots of cash, and a hankering for some RIBS!
After finding parking and walking about 3/4 of a mile to the park, we found the west entrance to the Fest. The sights and smells were completely overwhelming!
(click to enlarge)
Little did we know that the south side (where we were) was the “smaller” side of the festival, and there was a larger North side just across the street… but more on that later. We immediately got in one of the extremely long lines for our first batch of barbecue.
Armadillo’s was up first. Something about their display, fast-moving line, and the fact that they sounded familiar drew us to their line.
Since we were hungry, we opted to share a half-slab of ribs and a pulled pork sandwich. I swear, I can’t go to any BBQ-related event and NOT get pulled pork!
That sauce was, in a word, phenomenal. It had more complex notes than any other barbecue sauce I’ve ever had. I don’t know what it was, or why it was so good, but it was truly wonderful!
Then we got to the ribs.
We each had one small, one medium, and one large rib. The meat was juicy and tender, and it was doused in that amazing sauce… I was a big fan.
I had my eyes out for the Char-Broil Grill tent, but hadn’t yet seen it, so Adam and I walked around a bit. We found a vendor selling “Shake-Ups”, a citrus drink with lime, orange, lemon, and a hint of cranberry. They were served in a vat.
After a while, we wanted to try one more rib vendor, just to say we had. We liked this one’s logo:
And BBQ sauce table
And after a long wait, we got our third of a slab of ribs.
Adam dug in while I tried to reach Lizz, who we were supposed to be meeting up with.
He cut all his hair off on Friday.
Anyway, Sgt. Oink’s ribs were also fantastic. The meat was obviously smoked for a long time, as there was a considerable pink smoke ring, as well as that crunchy, chewy, seasoned “bark” that is the coveted outcome of barbecue pit masters everywhere. The sauce was good, but not nearly as amazing as Armadillo’s… I wish I’d had more stomach room for more ribs!
After we finished cleaning ourselves up, the band that had been performing finished up, and an announcer came on the loudspeaker and informed us that Kenny Wayne Shepherd would be performing soon!
WHAT?! We thought we were there to see STYX! It was then that we realized we were on the “wrong” side of the festival, and we’d been exploring the “wrong” side for the last 3 hours! And it was at this point I heard from Lizz, who said they’d just arrived and COULDN’T GET IN!!! So we hurried over to the other side, and were greeted by a huge crowd, waiting for people to leave so they could get in.
We waited a little while, and the line wasn’t moving… so we headed back, grabbed another shake-up, and walked back to the car. Lizz gave us status updates, and she finally made it in about a half hour after we left… and the Char-Broil Grill booth was closed!
We tried, we really did! RibFest was a fantastic experience, and we’ll definitely go back next summer! I’m glad we had the nudge from FlatOut fo finally make it after years of hearing how great it was.
The rest of the weekend is up for grabs… I’m kind of loving not having any plans. It’s going to be beautiful out today, so maybe a trip to the pool is in the cards.
That’s why my Sunday is sensational… what about you? Share your favorite post from the week below!