July 14, 2024

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Chicago Park District issues statement after Riot Fest says it will leave Douglas Park – NBC Chicago

Chicago Park District issues statement after Riot Fest says it will leave Douglas Park – NBC Chicago

Editor’s Note: The new location for Riot Fest’s “RiotLand” has been revealed for 2024. Our latest story can be found here. Our original story continues below.

The Chicago Park District issued a statement after organizers of Riot Fest, a festival held in Chicago’s Douglas Park since 2015, said it would be leaving its current location due to the park district’s “lack of care for the community.”

“Riot Fest will be leaving Douglas Park,” a video message posted to Riot Fest’s social media pages on Tuesday read in part. “And – let me be as clear as the azure sky in the deepest summer – our exodus is solely because of the Chicago Park District. Their lack of concern for the community, you and me, has left us no choice in the end.

The video was a scrolling message, placed in front of a leather sofa with a framed picture of the word “OZ” hanging above it. Posted by Riot Fest on Tuesday night. The minute-long video, attributed to festival co-founder Mike Petryshyn, criticized the park district for their actions in negotiations over the event’s venue, saying Riot Festival organizers were “tired of being the lowest hanging fruit.”

The message continued: “I’m tired of playing their games. I’m tired of watching something I love constantly be used as a distraction from their inner powerlessness.”

In addition to the Chicago park’s departure, organizers said the lineup for the 2024 festival, scheduled for Sept. 20-22 — and new details about its new event called “RiotLand” — will be revealed Wednesday, starting at 10 a.m.

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“Although our curtains have closed at Douglas Park, another curtain has opened,” the letter read. “It’s called RiotLand. It’s something you’ve never seen before. And it’s long overdue.”

The three-day music festival began in 2005, originally using a combination of venues before moving to Chicago’s Humboldt Park. In 2015, the festival moved to Douglas Park, but in recent years it has become the subject of community disapproval, including petitions to remove the festival from the park.

In a statement emailed to NBC Chicago overnight, the Chicago Park District said the district has worked “tirelessly to balance the interests of the community and our special event organizers.”

“Community voices are very important to our decision-making process, which is why a comprehensive community engagement process is a necessary component of evaluating a permit application,” the statement read in part. “Last year, Riot Fest organizers successfully completed this process, obtained a permit and hosted their event in Douglas Park.”

The full statement from the Park District can be found below.

The Chicago Park District has indirectly learned that Riot Fest organizers have stated that they do not intend to go ahead with their event in Douglas Park next September. The permit application for the event has not been withdrawn, and is in fact awaiting provisional approval by the Park County Board of Commissioners. This approval process was established by the Board two years ago for special events permit review and ensures that organizers engage the community to obtain feedback on the impact on the community and dialogue on event production modifications that should be considered to address community concerns.

The Chicago Park District has worked tirelessly to balance the interests of the community and our special event organizers. Community voices are critical to our decision-making process, which is why a comprehensive community engagement process is a necessary element in evaluating a permit application. Last year, Riot Fest organizers successfully completed this process, obtaining a permit and hosting their event in Douglass Park.

For large-scale events, our top priorities are minimizing the impact on the community, protecting our park assets and ensuring organizers plan a safe and well-organized event. It is essential that the event organizer works with and understands the community in which the event is being hosted. Prior to Board approval, we ask that they engage local residents, community organizations, elected officials, businesses and the Park Advisory Board to provide detailed information related to the event.

This year, the Chicago Park District strengthened its commitment to the community by announcing the creation of a new initiative to reinvest a portion of its event revenue fund directly into parks that host special events with 3,000 or more attendees. Parks that host multi-day events of 3,000 or more guests will receive a direct reinvestment of 10 percent of the permit fees collected from event organizers plus any park restoration fees. A key part of the initiative are engagement opportunities in which residents will be invited to attend to provide feedback on potential capital improvement projects.