Get your "Red Solo Cup" ready, country is coming to Naperville’s Ribfest—despite some grumbling.
Toby Keith will headline the suburban BBQ extravaganza even as some have voiced criticism of the choice as too political after Keith performed at President Donald Trump’s inauguration, according to the Exchange Club of Naperville.
“On Saturday, the Exchange Club of Naperville made a decision to allow community members to post without restriction on the club’s Ribfest Facebook page,” the group posted on social media Tuesday morning. “This was done as a measure of sensitivity to the current political climate and in a spirit of cooperation with our beloved community.”
The 30th anniversary of the event will see Keith, the singer of songs like “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,” “Made in America,” and “The Taliban Song,” taking the stage on June 30.
“I don’t apologize for performing for our country or military,” Keith said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly last month. “I performed at events for previous presidents [George W.] Bush and [Barack] Obama and over 200 shows in Iraq and Afghanistan for the USO.”
The comments on the group’s Facebook page following the announcement are peppered with barbs and charged accusations between commenters regarding the cultural and political tone of Keith’s songs.
One user, citing a local TV news report, said if Toby Keith was canceled she would not support the event.
Another decried the issue of politics altogether.
“No need to explain the concert selection,” they wrote. “This is not a political event. Ribfest is a summer festival with live music. Period.”
Resident Pamela Mikulcik, the Naperville Sun reported, was critical of the Exchange Club who she said deleted her comment.
"I think it's important that the dialogue is out there so we think twice about the meaning of lyrics and how people might respond to booking artists who sing those lyrics," Mikulcik said.
"Guess me and my bi racial family will go to get our ribs where we don't have to listen to songs about lynching," another user wrote. The comment includes lyrics to Keith's song "Beer For My Horses."
The Ribfest Facebook page has since stated the comments will no longer be tolerated.
“Ribfest's Facebook page must return to its ‘job’ of sharing information about Ribfest,” the group wrote. “Going forward, any post that is politically charged or not focused on Ribfest will be removed.”
The Chicago Tribune reported Keith declined to reveal who he was voting for in the November election last August. "This election, I don't think it makes a difference. I can't believe there's 300 million Americans in this country, and we've got these two as our final two. It's absolutely crazy," Keith told the newspaper.
The Tribune also reported that the city of Naperville is not involved in any of the planning regarding Ribfest—decisions like the confirmation of Keith’s performance are done by the Exchange Club of Naperville.
“Ribfest talent is negotiated and selected months in advance of the event. At no time does the Exchange Club of Naperville make any political statement or endorsement. At no time are artists booked based on their political beliefs or actions,” the group said on Facebook.
Tickets for Keith’s performance go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. at ribfest.net, the group said.
Proceeds from Ribfest go to agencies working to end child abuse and domestic violence in DuPage, Will, Cook and Kane Counties, organizers said.