HUMBOLDT PARK — Riot Fest owner Michael Petryshyn’s relationship with Humboldt Park Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) has clearly soured since the two stood side-by-side to hand out turkeys a few days before Thanksgiving 2013.
Maldonado reinforced his opposition to Riot Fest over the weekend, and tension over the 3-day festival setting up shop for a fourth year in Humboldt Park is likely to increase as the punk rock music fest continues to plan a return to the park in September — despite Maldonado’s objection.
Meanwhile, alderman Joe Moreno (1st) has joined the fray.
Backing from the 1st Ward
“I’m going to do everything I can to support the fest,” Moreno told DNAinfo Chicago. “Hopefully I can work with [Maldonado] to keep it in Humboldt Park. I know he's got a strong opinion right now but I hope he will realize the benefits."
Though none of the park resides in Moreno’s ward, the neighboring alderman touted Riot Fest’s economic boost to businesses in his ward as the main reason he could support the fest’s re-entry into Humboldt Park this year.
It wouldn’t be the first time the two alderman have gone head to head over a territorial dispute — Moreno made the unusual decision to launch public nuisance hearings for a convenience store in Maldonado’s ward in January 2014.
And Maldonado hasn't forgotten — the 26th Ward alderman likened a possible attempt to trump him (again) to playing with fire.
No official move has been taken by Moreno on behalf of Riot Fest yet, but Petryshyn is already lobbying for the 1st Ward alderman’s support.
Riot Fest Cancellations — From Philly to Colorado
Though Riot Fest goes off without a hitch at most of its nationwide festivals, a boot from Humboldt Park wouldn’t be the punk rock fest's first relocation due to mounting pressure.
A stop on the 2012 tour was cancelled "due to unforseen circumstances" a week ahead of its event date when the Philadelphia show was postponed and eventually shut down for good. Though a follow up tour was discussed for the city, a new tour never materialized.
Riot Fest was later forced out of Byers, Colorado in summer 2014 — a decision that left Petryshyn "tremendously sad" and “utterly incensed.” As he’s said of Humboldt Park in recent years, Petryshyn told fans in a 1,000 word statement that he had planned to make Byers his “home for Riot Fest for years to come.”
Riot Fest was “duped” and “tossed out of Byers” that year and a legal appeal to overturn the decision was unanimously rejected by the town's county government two months later.
Founders of the 3-day fest undoubtedly don’t want to see a repeat in Humboldt Park, but a repeat is exactly what they’ll get if Maldonado has his way.
The alderman says repeated damage to the park tops his list of objections to Riot Fest, along with a 2014 festival layout and entrance alteration that resulted in 50 percent of attendees not seeing and, subsequently, not patronizing businesses along Division Street — a strip lined with Puerto Rican-owned businesses known as Paseo Boricua, the designated locus for Chciago’s Puerto Rican community in Humboldt Park.
While Maldonado admits that the first two years of Riot Fest came and went without complaint, he cites a rising community opposition as motiviation for his own objection to the 2015 fest. And he's made that objection known to the Chicago Park District, which will ultimately issue or reject a permit for the fest in Humboldt Park.
“When you take a look at the damage the fest has caused, could anybody who is a community resident of the park be in support of bringing them back?” he asked.
The Future of the Fest
Early Monday, Riot Fest organizers issued a statement detailing the repairs they've funded in previous years to restore the park after each festival and asserting that they have "delivered everything promised and more" in the past.
Petryshyn and Maldonado have not spoken since September 2014, Maldonado said, and while Petryshyn reached out Moreno last week, Maldonado said he has not received a call from the Riot Fest owner since news of the rift broke.
“They did not leave a good taste in the mouth ... and this place is not conducive to such a massive fest,” he added, noting that the recent community response to the fest "has taken on a life of its own."
It’s yet to be seen what form Riot Fest 2015 will take — Petryshyn says he’s “100 percent certain” that Humboldt Park will remain the fest’s home despite Maldonado’s vow to block its re-entry.
Moreno cited proximity and economics as the basis for his support of the festival, but stopped short of saying he’d go over Maldonado’s head to back an event permit for Riot Fest 2015.
“My ward borders the park to the east and to the north,” Moreno told DNAinfo Chicago. "[Riot Fest] is important for businesses in my community and it’s got a tremendous amount of support.”
“And as a fan, which is less important, I would hate to see it leave the neighborhood,” he added.
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