Mamby on the Beach canceled as endangered birds hatch on Montrose Beach

Organizers had been looking at alternative venues after animal rights activists protested that the concert would negatively impact the birds.

SHARE Mamby on the Beach canceled as endangered birds hatch on Montrose Beach

A group of endangered birds, with the help of rising Lake Michigan waters, has won the battle over Montrose Beach against a popular Chicago music festival.

Mamby on the Beach has been canceled after weeks of back and forth between organizers and animal rights activists over the piping plovers that made the festival’s planned venue home.

The music festival, set for Aug. 23 and 24, was axed due to “circumstances beyond our control,” organizers wrote in a statement.

“These unforeseen circumstances include significantly higher than average waters of Lake Michigan eliminating the beach portion of our intended site,” the statement read. “Additionally, our original footprint was affected by the presence of Great Lakes Piping Plover shorebirds, a federally protected species.”

Organizers said tickets would be refunded within five to 10 business days. The two-day fest was expected to attract up to 20,000 people per day.

Jill Niland of the Montrose Lakefront Coalition, which fought to have the festival moved away from the Montrose Beach area, said the decision “certainly going forward will be much better for the plovers.”

“We’re just happy that they decided to cancel,” Niland told the Sun-Times. “We’re satisfied that JAM and the Park District realized that Montrose isn’t really a good concert venue. ... I think it’s best all around that they’re not going to be there near the beach.”

A rare piping plover walks in the area sectioned off for the endangered species this summer on Montrose Beach, where volunteers worked to protect a nest.

Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times

Jerry Mickelson, the head concert organizer of JAM Productions, was out of town and not available for comment, a company representative said.

In a Chicago Park District meeting this month, festival promoters released a plan to move the festival from the beach to parkland between Wilson and Lawrence avenues, the Park District said in a statement.

In announcing the cancellation, organizers said it became too late to move the festival.

“Despite working tirelessly with the Chicago Park District and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to find a new location, moving the festival at this late a date, while still providing a superior beach event experience, would be impossible and a disservice to fans and artists alike,” the statement said.

Jam Productions’ Jerry Mickelson, left, in 2018. A piping plover walks in the area sectioned off for the endangered species on Montrose Beach in June.

Jam Productions’ Jerry Mickelson, left, in 2018. A piping plover walks in the area sectioned off for the endangered species on Montrose Beach in June.

Colin Boyle/Sun-Times; Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The two endangered and federally protected piping plovers prompting the cancellation have been nesting on the beach for months — and more than doubled in number this week.

In June, the plover nest was flooded and its four eggs removed to Lincoln Park Zoo for safe keeping, but those eggs did not develop.

The birds came back and made a new nest farther north on higher ground, and laid a second clutch of eggs. One plover chick hatched on the beach Wednesday night, and two others Thursday, according to the Chicago Ornithological Society. Their parents have been nicknamed Monty and Rose, in a reference to Montrose Beach.

The Park District, which is responsible for issuing the festival’s permit, said it had been working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which was considering mandating a 1,000-meter buffer zone to protect the birds from concert noise.

Mickelson told the Chicago Sun-Times in June that the festival would move to comply with the mandated buffer zone if the birds remained on the beach as the festival approached.

The Latest
Perch and other summer fishing around Chicago leads this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.
Three people were shot in Lake View East, where police had stepped up patrols after the Pride Parade.
The fire began in the basement of a house in the 4000 block of West Potomac Avenue early Sunday, officials said.
Two train passengers and one person in the truck were killed, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Devastated survivors struggle to grieve as the deceased’s great-granddaughter calls attention to herself.