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Rib Fest Moves to Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds

Photography Provided by the Avon Chamber of Commerce

Rib FestHendricks County leaders are excited to announce the return of the Hendricks County Rib Fest, a beloved annual community event that celebrates mouth-watering food and fun times with family and friends. This year Rib Fest will be held at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds, which will offer attendees the opportunity to spread out while enjoying tasty treats and fellowship.

Rib Fest began 16 years ago in Washington Township Park as a last-minute event. According to Tom Downard, executive director of the Avon Chamber of Commerce, the celebration immediately exceeded all expectations. Each year it has continued to grow as people have flocked to enjoy music, games, bounce houses, hot-air balloons, fireworks, fun runs, and of course food. By 2014 the event had outgrown the park, so it was moved to Kingsway Christian Church.

“Kingsway was nothing but tremendous as far as volunteerism and allowing us to use their facilities,” Downard says.

Through the years, Rib Fest has continued to attract people not only from Avon, but also from all over Hendricks County and central Indiana.

“As we saw the numbers steadily growing, we continued to talk about a venue that could not only accommodate a crowd but also additional vendors,” says Downard, noting that in the past, event leaders have had to bring in portable restrooms, portable lighting and portable power. “The Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds is set up perfectly for what we need, or as close to perfect as you can get. They have such nice amenities.”

Downard hopes that by moving Rib Fest to a larger venue, event leaders will reach more businesses throughout the county that want to participate through sponsorship or booth rental. According to Downard, the Hendricks County Fair typically attracts roughly 10,000 people throughout the week.

“Rib Fest gets that or more in a day,” Downard says. “Not many events invite that kind of crowd.”

While crowd size has been a concern during the course of the pandemic, this venue is the ideal spot to allow people to congregate safely while they eat, socialize and play, since it’s easy to spread out.

Downard is grateful to be able to work with Steve Patterson, executive director of the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds and Rib Fest committee member.

“Steve has a ton of experience and knowledge in events,” Downard says. “We’re lucky to have him.”

Rib FestPatterson is happy to help, and says Fairgrounds leaders are looking forward to partnering with the Avon Chamber to host the 2021 Rib Fest.

“The new location will allow for more activities and additional vendor options for the attendees,” Patterson adds. “We hope to make a good experience.”

This year’s event will not feature tethered balloon rides, since even a slight delay due to weather issues can cause all reservation times to shift. Organizers still plan to offer the hot-air balloon glow, and attendees can get their picture taken inside of the balloon. Kids in particular enjoy getting to see giant, colorful balloons up close and personal.

Sponsored by IU Health West Hospital, the 6th Annual Rib Run will also take place in the morning. The 1/4 Slab Kids Run kicks off at 8:30 a.m., followed by the 5K Rib Run.

For the first time ever, beer will be available for sale.

“That’s a new twist, and we’re eager to see how that plays out,” Downard says.

In addition, the event will feature a deejay as well as bounce houses geared toward smaller children.

“We continue to try and make the event better each year,” Downard adds. “That’s our goal – to create a place for families and people to come have fun.”

Rib FestLocals are eager to return to the fun, after a year that for many included more downtime than usual. Crystal Callahan’s son Patrick always looks forward to the blow-up bounce houses, while Crystal is impressed by the good eats at affordable prices.

“In the past, the food has always been so delicious and very reasonable,” Callahan says. “We also really enjoyed watching the fireworks display and the hot-air balloons. We can’t wait to go back.”

Rib vendors include Barbecue and Bourbon, Delia’s Ribs, RidiQlous BBQ, Wild Boar BBQ, Kickstand, Blowin Smokque BBQ and Bud’s BBQ more. Additional food vendors include Kona Ice, Avon Kiwanis Club, Cabin Coffee Company,American Legion Avon Post 145 and Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt Avon & Bamber’s Sweet Creations.

Rib Fest is scheduled for June 26, with a start time of 4 p.m. The night will conclude with fireworks around 10 p.m. Attendees are encouraged bring blankets or lawn chairs to enjoy watching the night sky light up.

For more info, visit avonchamber.org

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