Despite opposition, Riot Fest is on
Popular three-day outdoor music festival Riot Fest is expected to bring over 100,000 people to Douglass Park this weekend.
- And some residents aren't happy.
Why it matters: Community members are petitioning the Chicago Park District to remove Riot Fest and other music festivals from the Lawndale/Little Village area park.
Driving the news: Wanting the district to stop giving permits to large, for-profit festivals, they delivered a letter to the Chicago Park District yesterday signed by 30 organizations and local leaders.
Context: The trouble stems from the park district adding another large festival to Douglass Park. There were three there over the summer.
- Residents are angry that, considering festival load-in and cleanup, they don't have access to the park for most of the summer.
- Parking and transportation issues cause gridlock, neighbors say.
- And the park gets trashed with garbage and debris, disrupting normal activities like youth soccer.
Of note: North Lawndale and Little Village are predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods.
What they're saying: "We do see this as a form of environmental racism," local organizer Edith Tovar said at a recent press conference.
State of play: Riot Fest held a community meeting last month to address concerns, but according to residents, the meeting was contentious and hostile.
- Riot Fest apologized afterwards, saying in a statement, "We have been in Douglass Park since 2015, and we consider it our home."
- They parted ways with the contractor who held the meeting.
Flashback: Before Douglass Park, Riot Fest was in Humboldt Park, but similar concerns led to the festival moving in 2015.
The intrigue: Ald. Cardenas has welcomed summer music festivals for years and has taken campaign contributions from organizers.
- But he is stepping down to run for Cook County Board of Review.
Justin's thought bubble: Riot Fest is one the premiere music festivals in the country. The lineups are always fantastic and it has served as a nice complement to the more mainstream (and expensive) Lollapalooza.
- If you go, I recommend seeing hometown faves Alkaline Trio tomorrow.
- But I've been to the fest and completely get what the residents are saying.
- Here's an idea: maybe it's time to let the Bears go to Arlington Heights and move forward on repurposing Soldier Field for festivals.
- And give us back our neighborhood parks.
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