Naperville Ribfest winner declared; festival reopens after brief closure from storms

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- The judges at Naperville's Ribfest have declared a winner!

Mark Link, owner of Uncle Bub's in Westmont, took first place in all three categories: best sauce, best ribs and kids' choice.

Link won all three categories at last year's Ribfest as well and said he donates his winnings to charity.

Ribfest was briefly evacuated and closed due to a threat of storms Friday afternoon.

Officials announced the evacuation and temporary closure about 2 p.m.

"I'm disappointed," said festival-goer Scott Sears. "I basically moved to Naperville for this, and this is the best carnival out this way."

Ribfest reopened about 3:30 p.m.

Earlier in the day, master grillers were battling it out for bragging rights on day three of the festival.

Thousands of rib lovers are descending on Knoch Park for the annual event. Friday, 11 rib vendors will face off in three categories: for Best Ribs, Best Sauce and finally Kid's Choice, and the competition is tough!
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Jesse Kirsch samples the ribs from 11 different vendors at Naperville Ribfest.

Mary Howenstine, director of marketing for the Exchange Club of Naperville, which sponsors the event, joined ABC7 to talk about Ribfest. Howenstine will be a first-time judge for this year's contest. ABC7's Jesse Kirsch is also serving as one of the judges.

If you haven't made it to the festival just yet, you still have Friday and Saturday to get your fill of ribs. Gates open at noon and country music star Brantley Gilbert is Friday night's music headliner.

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It's day three of Naperville's famed Ribfest celebration.

Admission is $5 and concert tickets start at $30. For more information, visit
WATCH: Tips for cooking the perfect ribs at home
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Jim Clayton, owner of Texas Outlaws' Ribs, shares his tips for making barbecue at home.

After 31 years, the festival is moving to Romeoville in 2020.

ABC7 is a proud sponsor of Ribfest.
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