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If Not in Humboldt Park, Where Could Riot Fest Be Held?

By Darryl Holliday | May 15, 2015 7:40am

HUMBOLDT PARK — Last year, when Riot Fest organizers were asked to detail their backup choices for the huge punk rock festival normally held in Humboldt Park, they listed only one other option: Grant Park.

But if the fest doesn't remain in Humboldt Park this year, as some local leaders hope, where might it be held on short notice?

Fans get emotional at the 2013 Riot Fest in Humboldt Park. (DNAinfo/Darryl Holliday)

Likely not Grant Park, says the Park District, which said there's not enough time to repair the Downtown park after Lollapalooza, which is held there from July 31-August 2. Riot Fest is scheduled for September 11-13. Tickets to both events have already gone on sale.

Another option is the West Side's Douglas Park, the sprawling parkland in North Lawndale just west of Mt. Sinai Hospital. Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) said the group was offered other Chicago Parks as alternatives, including Douglas Park, but so far organizers have declined.

This year Riot Fest Corporation applied for permits to use Humboldt Park for 14 consecutive days, Sept. 2-16, according to Park District records. The records list the 2015 permit requests as “tentative.” 

Riot Fest is still looking forward to hosting the 2015 punk rock festival at Humboldt Park, according to a Riot Fest spokeswoman, who declined to say whether organizers have looked at or discussed plans for a backup site. As organizers have said on multiple occasions, they hope to remain in Humboldt Park for years to come and are instead pushing for a multi-year contract at the park.

And while it does not appear that Riot Fest needs support from Humboldt Park Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) — who is against the festival returning to Humboldt Park — it does have the backing of neighboring Ald. Joe Moreno.

But permiting guidelines state that fest organizers will need Maldonado’s signature, and that of the 14th District Police Commander, in order to sell and allow alcohol during the festival.

Plans for the event are required to be filed with each official for approval at least 45 days before the event, according to the Chicago Park District’s special event permit application.

But the punk rock organizers will have less time this year to file than they did in years past, as the fest intends to start earlier and block off the park for a longer period of time than in 2014.

Last year, the event permit for Humboldt Park ran from Sept. 8-15 to accommodate time for set-up, three festival days and tear-down. This year, a permit filed with the Park District schedules the festival from Sept. 2-16 — an extra week.

While some neighbors opposed Riot Fest in Humboldt Park, others tout the economic contributions brought by the festival, including the recent $30,000 donation announced from Riot Fest to help preserve the Humboldt Park beach, which is in imminent danger of closing.

Humboldt Park Advisory Council President Amy Vega got a standing ovation from the crowd when she argued in favor of opening the Humboldt Park beach. (DNAinfo/Darryl Holliday)

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