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Political Controversy Stirs Over Toby Keith’s Scheduled Performance at Ribfest

Political drama follows Toby Keith it seems, with recent complaints over his scheduled performance at Naperville's annual Ribfest event.

Written by Lauren Laffer
Political Controversy Stirs Over Toby Keith’s Scheduled Performance at Ribfest
Toby Keith; Photo by Getty Images

Toby Keith can’t seem to shake the political heat this year. Since appearing at President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January, many fans have taken to social media to share their opposition to the singer’s decision to perform. Most recently, the disapproval has carried over to Keith’s scheduled performance at The Exchange Club of Naperville’s annual event Ribfest.

“In the current political climate, it seemed overtly polarizing and political,” Naperville resident Amy Kakkuri told the Chicago Tribune of the club’s decision to have him perform at the event that raises money to eliminate child abuse and domestic violence. “It would have been short-sighted for them to not expect this reaction.”

Though some residents have voiced their concerns on Facebook, event organizers have confirmed that Keith will remain on as headliner and that their decision to have him perform is not a political statement.

“Ribfest talent is negotiated and selected months in advance of the event,” the Facebook post read. “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.”

Keith has yet to make a statement about his Ribfest performance, but was previously very outspoken about his decision to perform at the inauguration.

“I don’t apologize for performing for our country or military,” Keith told Entertainment Weekly of the backlash he received. “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 Chicago Tribune also shared that the Oklahoma native declined to share who he’d be voting for ahead of the election, though he didn’t seem to be a fan of either candidate.

“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,” he responded at the time.

Toby Keith will perform on the Ribfest main stage on June 30. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit ribfest.net.