Ribfest 2022 kicks off Friday at DuPage County Fairgrounds in Wheaton

Clay Walker, Elle King and Lee Greenwood among musical performers
WHEATON, Ill. (WLS) -- Ribfest returns Friday for the first time since the pandemic and for the first time, the popular barbecue and music festival will be held outside Naperville.

The event is filled with the sweet sounds and savory smells of summer.

Naperville hosted Ribfest for 32 years, but with construction going on over there, organizers had to find a new home for the first time. The festival is now taking place at the DuPage County Fairgrounds in Wheaton.

Ribfest is the major fundraiser hosted by the Exchange Club of Naperville to help fight child abuse and domestic violence.

Clay Walker to join Elle King as co-headliners for Ribfest 2022

Thousands of people come out every year for the fest to take down some ribs while enjoying live music all weekend.

It's a return many have been waiting for and there are some slight changes to expect.

"Some things are the same and some things are new," Ribfest chairperson Bev Schafman. "We still have amazing ribs, but we do have some new ribs. We have a new carnival and a new venue. We are returning to Father's Day weekend, which is new but also old since our first Ribfest was at Rotary Hill in Naperville on Father's Day weekend."

Vendors are coming in from far and wide to share the best ribs in the country, including Blazin Bronco's, who came all the way from Florida.

"It's a lot of work. If it was easy, everyone would be doing this," said Blazin Bronco's owner Dennis Carrino.

He says he's been coming to Ribfest for decades and is fired up to be back.

"We're running four lines tonight and today, and that's the way this event is. You have to run four lines and have product behind you," Carrino added.

He said he plans to cook 28,000 pounds of meat over just four days.

"You taste the sauce, then you taste the smoke, and then the texture of your meat and that's what makes a great rib," he said.

Ribfest organizers say Lee Greenwood will fill the role of opening night headliner after Toby Keith bowed out due to health reasons.

Over the past 32 years, over $18 million has been raised because of this festival.

It all gets going around noon.

For ticket and other information, click here.

ABC7 is a proud sponsor of Ribfest.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.