City Cast

Local Civics: Riot Fest Debate

Sidney Madden
Sidney Madden
Posted on June 7
Swarms of people outside at a music fest with the Sears Tower in the distance

Riot Fest at Douglass Park on Sept. 16. (Daniel Boczarski / Getty)

Riot Fest is holding a virtual community meeting tonight about the fall fest staying in Douglass Park, an issue that has split residents and fest organizers for years.

Why are people against Riot Fest in Douglass Park?

Private fests can shut down parks for weeks at time, limiting residents’ access to green space, which is already sparse in North Lawndale.

Residents pushed the Chicago Park District to change how it distributes music fest permits after Heatwave, Lyrical Lemonade’s Summer Smash, and Riot Fest were at Douglass Park last summer. (The other two fests have since relocated.)

First at Humboldt Park, Riot Fest leaving Douglass Park would be significant because it ushered in an era of large music fests at neighborhood parks, Injustice Watch’s Kelly Garcia told the City Cast Chicago podcast.

Why are people for Riot Fest in Douglass Park?

Fest organizers say the three-day event can help the community by providing jobs, highlighting local talent, and more.

Local vendors who work inside the fest grounds reap the economic benefits, Latasha Ajayi, Douglass Park Advisory Council president and longtime North Lawndale resident, said at the park district’s May board meeting.

Also among fest supporters are 24th Ward Ald. Monique Scott, the North Lawndale Eagles football team, and Little Village Foundation.

+ Do YOU want Riot Fest to find a new home or stay put? Why?

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