Riot Fest leaving Humboldt Park, will be held at Douglas Park

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Fans at the 2014 Riot Fest in Humboldt Park. | Sun-Times file photo

Riot Fest is moving from Humboldt Park to Douglas Park on the Near West Side.

That announcement Wednesday from the music festival’s organizers came a day after Chicago Park District officials said they had asked them to consider a move.

The Riot Fest announcement, though, makes it sound as if a move had been in the works for some time.

It follows opposition from an alderman and complaints from neighborhood residents who opposed the festival’s return to Humboldt Park, where it had been held the past three years.

Douglas Park is in the 12th Ward, represented by Ald. George Cardenas, who has been much more welcoming than Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) was in Humboldt Park, according to Riot Fest founder Michael Petryshyn.

“In my very first meeting with Alderman Cardenas, I was happy that we were discussing logistical details and how we could enrich the community,” Petryshyn said in a written statement early Wednesday. “Quite frankly, I was silently ecstatic.

“He wanted to know more about staging, production, staffing and myriad small details many elected officials would never think to ask. . . . I was impressed with how Alderman Cardenas saw the big picture in the details,” Petryshyn said. “He gets it, and it was genuine. And that’s half the battle when staging a festival. We are so very excited to get to know our new neighbors and to work with them to hold an event that is beneficial to the community, local businesses and the residents. Essentially, everything we have brought to Humboldt Park over the last three years.”

The Riot Fest statement criticized “those who attempted to divide the community with unfair and unjust tactics that in no way represent the overwhelming majority of the Humboldt Park residents and businesses” but said in the end, they decided to move because they did not want to “allow the festival to be used as a pawn.”

Douglas Park is about three miles south of Humboldt Park and about a block from the California-Cermak L stop on the CTA’s Pink Line and about two blocks from the Kedzie-California stop.

Riot Fest organizers also raved about the new location’s proximity to Lagunitas Brewing Co. and the fact that “surrounding neighborhoods offer some of the best places to eat, drink and meet up in all of Chicago.”

Last month, Maldonado pushed for the eviction of the festival from Humboldt Park, saying $150,000 in promised park repairs tied to last year’s festival hadn’t been completed.

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Ald. Michael Scott Jr. (24th) had said Tuesday he pushed for Douglas Park, where he spent four years as park supervisor.

“Humboldt and Douglas are very similar in size and scope,” Scott said. “And when Riot Fest was asked to leave Humboldt Park, they began conversation on where it can go. Douglas Park is one of many parks that it can go.”

Scott said he supports the move for the economic opportunities it could bring.

“Hopefully, it would bring some opportunities in the communities in terms of jobs,” he said.

Maldonado has said the festival was welcomed by the community in its first two years. But he said an influx of people last year created additional damage, which he said created “a very uncomfortable environment for the residents.”

“The condition the park was left was deplorable,” he said.

Riot Fest is scheduled for Sept. 11-13. Organizers already have advertised for “early-bird” tickets on their website.

Riot Fest organizers said the park district approved of the progress made to the fields since last year’s festival damage and that Humboldt Park had draining problems even before the festival began at the park. They said they’ve invested $152,000 in repairs and expect to invest $30,000 more.

Contributing: Fran Spielman, Tina Sfondeles

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