CHICAGO — Riot Fest is back for another year in Douglass Park, to the displeasure of some in the community who continue to make it clear they’d like the annual music festival to make a home elsewhere.
Workers were busy Friday, with tens of thousands of festival-goers expected over three days. Many lined up bright and early to see artists such as Ani DiFranco, George Clinton and the Foo Fighters. Anti-Riot Fest graffiti spray painted on fencing around Douglas Park was visible, however.
It’s the latest sign of backlash after the music festival moved out of Humboldt Park.
For years, residents around Douglass Park have complained about limited access and damage to the park grounds, along with traffic and noise in designated quiet zones right next to two hospitals and a rehabilitation center.
When other festivals moved out of the park, Riot Fest stayed, opting to respond to criticism with a year-round community engagement initiative. The work included a job fair and partnerships with local organizations. But for some opponents, it’s simply not enough.
Illinois Rep. La Shawn Ford called the festival’s presence a nuisance.
“It must be hard for them to watch all these come in and not them better off,” Ford said of neighbors surrounding Douglass Park.
Ford added that he is in talks with council members to explore ways to ensure the community benefits from the festival, including an additional tax on large-scale events.
“At the state level, we could add an amusement tax for community benefits across the state,” Ford said. “That means if there were a park hosting a concert, then there would have to be some type of community benefits agreement.”
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But for now, the show goes on at Riot Fest with a crowd pumped for the experience. The festival rages on through Sunday. Other headliners include The Postal Service, Death Cab for Cutie and The Cure.