Striking A Blow For Local Residents

Background Reading


Organizers of the embattled Riot Fest announced Wednesday they’re moving the show to Chicago’s Douglas Park in the North Lawndale community.

As first reported by RedEye, Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) didn’t want Riot Fest to return to Humboldt Park, where the 3-day concert has been held for several years, because of the damage to the park in the aftermath of last year’s fest.

Repairs related to last September’s fest continued this month at the Northwest Side park, whose boundaries are North Avenue to the north, Division Street to the south, California Avenue to the east and Kedzie Avenue to the west.

“The people do not want it because it is massively disruptive for their organized activities. And how can you accommodate this festival in that park without the disruption that it takes days before, during and days after the event?” Maldonado said earlier this month.

On Wednesday, Riot Fest’s top boss seemed more than happy to be working a new alderman – George Cardenas, whose 12th ward includes Douglas Park. In a news release issued Wednesday morning, Michael Petryshyn, founder of Riot Fest, said Cardenas “gets it” when it comes to logistics as well as how the event can help the community.

“In my very first meeting with Alderman Cardenas, I was happy that we were discussing logistical details and how we could enrich the community. Quite frankly, I was silently ecstatic. He wanted to know more about staging, production, staffing and myriad small details many elected officials would never think to ask. Analytical minds in the festival world are a commodity and I was impressed with how Alderman Cardenas saw the big picture in the details,” Petryshyn was quoted as saying in a news release.

“He gets it and it was genuine.  And that’s half the battle when staging a festival.  We are so very excited to get to know our new neighbors and to work with them to hold an event that is beneficial to the community, local businesses and the residents.  Essentially, everything we have brought to Humboldt Park over the last three years.”

Bordered roughly by Roosevelt Road to the north, 19th Street to the south, Albany Avenue to the west and California Avenue to the east, Douglas Park is south of Humboldt Park. It’s about a 10-minute drive from Humboldt Park, near the CTA’s Pink Line train stop at California and within walking distance to the Lagunitas Taproom.

The 218-acre park features formal gardens, a lagoon, a golf course, artificial turf soccer field, baseball diamonds, tennis and basketball courts, outdoor pool, football stadium and a grand ballroom, according to the park district.

A handful of fast food restaurants line Cermak Road a couple blocks south of the park. Three train stops away at 18th Street is Pilsen where hot spots such as Dusek’s Board and Beer, Thalia Hall and Simone’s Bar are within one mile.

Riot Fest, which is also held in Denver and Toronto, was recently named the best festival in the U.S. by USA Today. RedEye is a sponsor of Riot Fest this year and was last year.

Organizers plan to release the festival’s lineup next week.

“We are excited that Riot Fest has honored us by selecting Douglas Park as its new home.  More importantly, the community is thrilled to say ‘welcome’ to the over 150,000 fans, artists and staff that make Riot Fest possible,” Cardenas said in the news release.


Hipsters have a way of assuming that they represent a community. The enter with larger bank accounts than their neighbors who have occupied that site for far longer than they. But rather than finding ways to ‘blend in‘ they have simply overwhelmed the locals with their notions of community and celebration.

Douglas Park may have begun a journey with this new culture hoping that the ‘money‘ they bring will be enough to hold their noses should the aftermath of the concert leave their park in the same conditions.

Time will tell.