Some Lawndale residents want music festivals like Riot Fest out of Douglass Park

Karen Jordan Image
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
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Some Lawndale residents want to prevent any more music fesitvals from being held in Douglass Park, including Riot Fest, which has called the park home since 2015.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some Lawndale residents said they want to keep music festivals out of Douglass Park for the good of the community.

The residents say it's harder to come by quiet days in the park because it's often closed off when music festivals are being set up and taken down.

"We lose access to it for roughly 45 days out of the summer, which means people don't get to run here, people don't get to bring their dogs, people don't get to have picnics with their families," said jose Manuel Almanza, Unete La Villita.

Unete La Villita, an organization in South Lawndale, is part of a growing effort to keep music festivals out of the park. So far this year the park has hosted Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash in June and Heatwave Music Festival, new to the park, in July. Residents are now hoping to stop Riot Fest from setting up in September. Riot Fest has called Douglass Park home since 2015.

"They don't do a good job cleaning up after, they're not being good neighbors, and enough is enough," Almanza said.

There's an online petition to stop music fests in Douglass Park, saying many activities have had to relocate because the grounds have been damaged. Friends of the Parks said they'd like to see the city designate an outdoor concert space.

"Right now, the whole talk with Soldier Field, that is definitely something that should be considered," said Elvia Rodriguez Ochoa, Friends of the Parks.

The Chicago Park District started requiring festival organizers to hold at least one public meeting as part of their community engagement plan. Last week, the event planner for Riot Fest held a meeting and many who attended said it did not go well.

"He had his arms crossed. His body language was confrontational and defensive," Almanza said.

That event planner has since stepped down and Riot Fest apologized, with a spokesman releasing a statement saying, "We don't condone the tone and apologize to the Douglass Park community as it is not reflective of RF's values or any of our past work in the park. We respect the concerns of the neighbors and want to make sure they are heard and addressed."

Plans remain in place for the three-day Riot Fest to take place starting Sept. 16.