It’s only 20 minutes after my delicious brioche French toast with candied walnuts, bananas, and maple syrup, yet the smell of barbeque sauce and ribs slowly cooking is already making me hungry. Two hours before opening—the 25th Annual Ribfest is already buzzing with vendors, volunteers and us Real Art folks as we set up the coolest bike in the history of grilling.
Our box truck is finally being unloaded after surviving Chicago traffic and clearing a Secret Service level inspection from festival security. Let’s be fair though—the Exchange Club of Naperville worked hard to organize this event and to convert the city’s Knoch Park into a barbecue fan’s playground. This is what I imagine heaven smells like.
But I digress.
As we are releasing our bike from the crazy webs of straps that held it in place for our trip from Ohio to Illinois, it is quickly becoming obvious that people are staring at us. Much to my dismay, it has nothing to do with my amazingly color coordinated red kicks, red nail polish and matching Grilling is Happiness t-shirt. It has everything to do with a half bike, half grill: the Mobile Grilling Unit.
By noon, the Sears Grilling is Happiness team is on a mission. I navigate the festival jam-packed with food lovers and grilling enthusiasts on a bike that, even when it’s not fired up can still serve up a mean hot dog—you know, the squeezable stress toy kind. ‘Cause deciding which barbecue rib vendor to choose can be very stressful. The fine folks at Sears are manning the Grilling is Happiness tent, working with Ty Pennington who is MC-ing the main stage, grilling with our celebrity chefs, signing wieners (the stress toy hot dogs, of course) and meeting the fans who line up and wait patiently in the scorching hot summer day.
A late lunch break finally gets me out of the hot sun and much anticipated, ever-so-appetizing, deliciously smelling ribs end up on my plate. I wolf it down like I have been without food for days—but who cares. I suspect most people around me have similar thoughts. As I wash down the best ribs I have ever eaten with the 12th bottle of water of the day, it finally hits me:
Grilling IS happiness. Our motto about grilling bringing people together had never rang more true. You just gotta know how to roll out in style to get that message across.