It's A RIBFEST World, We Just Live In It

Come, as I attempt a little Midwestern name-dropping and cultural exploitation in the name of ribs and America.
Publish date:
July 1, 2011
music, family, vegetarian, July 4th, BBQ, fake punk rocker, Family Guy, rib judging

I’m kicking off my Fourth of July weekend Friday by exiting Chicago and heading outward (I’m terrible at directions) to the lush Utopian suburb-turned-mini-city of Naperville, hometown of Bob Odenkirk, and the annual orgy of beer, BBQ and classic rock that is RIBFEST.And it’s an over-30 generously tattooed (but professional) newlywed double date!

My teetotalling and non-meat-eating ways disqualify me from 2/3 of the revelry (if we don’t include ice cream, funnel cakes/elephant ears, curly fries, kettle corn, Italian ice and root beer- which I do not), but when it comes to classic rock, I’m bound by blood. Friday’s headliner? A little Midwestern sensation called REO Speedwagon, my uncle’s full-time keyboard-playing job for over 40 years.

Think of the relatives you sadly only get to see once or twice a year, and then imagine those reunions taking place at Ribfest, or Bank of Valeska Amphitheatre or the Golden Orbs Casino. It’s super insanely fun.

REO may be the punchline of a few pop culture jokes (They were excellently utilized in Family Guy epi “The Splendid Source”), but in the Midwest especially, folks are RABID for these dudes. You’ll see 3 generations of families singing along to the songs I used to pretend I didn’t know every word to when I was a little new wave baby or fake punk rocker. Weird, but pretty neat.

So it’s a super-American Fourth of July weekend opening night for me. Just a couple of married couples strolling around the ‘burbs, binging on fair food, people-watching galore, FIREWORKS, rocking out to 70’s anthems and 80’s power ballads, and squeezing in one of those sweet family get-togethers that reliably end too soon. Oh well, there’s always Pabst Theater (that’s actually a real place).

What are your weekend plans? Have a favorite REO song/memory? Barbeque you recommend? Anyone get my Three Stooges reference (fake country of Valenska, and nobody expects you to)?