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Lake in the Hills Rockin' Ribfest kick offs

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(Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com)
Alec Berndt (left), 18, of Crystal Lake and Caitlyn Mainard, 17, of Lake in the Hills wait for Chicago Tribute Anthology to start during the Lake in the Hills Rockin' Ribfest on Thursday at Sunset Park.

LAKE IN THE HILLS – Sitting on a black blanket with his parents, 22-month-old Aiden Nowitzki tried ribs for the first time.

Aiden’s little sister, Gabi, who at seven months old is “way too young” for ribs, their father, Jason, said, sat in the double stroller next to her mother, Mary.

The ribs were from Pigfoot, one of eight barbecue stands that dominated Sunset Park on Thursday evening, the opening night of Rockin’ Ribfest in Lake in the Hills.

Slathered with apple-infused sauce, they were the first of “quite a few” the family plans on sampling before the festival wraps up Sunday, Jason Nowitzki said.

Banners declaring restaurants’ names, surrounded by smaller signs trumpeting their accolades – Smokin’ Joe’s Hog Wild Barbecue won best sauce at the 2010 O-G Jaycees Rhythm Ribfest and Armadillo’s won best ribs at the 2012 Chicago Ribfest – stretched high above the other food stands.

A new Community Rib Cook-off will give 10 residents a chance to show off their skills at the grill on Sunday.

Aiden was less impressed by the ribs though.

As is his habit, he wandered off to investigate the collections of families and groups of young people that filled the stretch of Sunset Park between the Nowitzkis and Chicago Tribute Anthology playing on stage.

Aiden’s parents, Jason and Mary Nowitzki, have been coming to the festival for about three years.

They like that the festival is close to home, and as a former Carpentersville Rotary member, Jason Nowitzki likes supporting the service organization. (The Lake in the Hills Rotary Club puts on the festival and uses the proceeds to support community projects.)

“[We’ll] snack on some food, listen to music and chase the kids around,” he said.

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