Riot Fest founder fights alderman for place in Humboldt Park

By Managing Editor

As the summer’s music festivals approach, music lovers are busy trying to secure their spots at Pitchfork and Lollapalooza.

Some are even turning to overpriced online ticket sellers in a last-ditch effort to join their pals to see some of the season’s biggest acts.

But not everyone is excited about the upcoming festivities. As reported in the article on Page 38, Alderman Roberto Maldonado (26th Ward) is trying to push one of the city’s most noted music festivals out of Humboldt Park.

Maldonado claims he wants the three-day Riot Fest forced out of his ward because damage to the park sustained during last year’s festival have left the community park with $150,000 in promised repairs that have yet to be taken care of, according to an April 30 Chicago Sun-Times report.

Maldonado’s concerns regarding the neglected repairs are valid considering how prominent the park space is within the community, but he may be overreacting a bit.

Michael Petryshyn, founder of Riot Fest, is a current Humboldt Park resident, according to an April 30 DNAInfo Chicago article.

Petryshyn explained in the Sun-Times report that repairs are being carried out, but that they occur in phases, admitting some repairs even had to be done repeatedly to properly fix up the park.

“I will fight unequivocally for what is right, fair and just for the community—I know how perception has changed, and I know the economic impact,” Petryshyn told the news site DNAInfo.

Rather than dwelling on the repairs that still need to be completed, Maldonado should consider the significant benefits of hosting the punk rock festival in Humboldt Park.

As Petryshyn pointed out, the festival brings revenue to the community through increased traffic to local businesses from both the city’s tourists and area residents.

Many of the festival’s attendees are current Chicago residents, but Riot Fest and similar festivals are known for attracting music fans from across the country and some- times even draw visitors to the city from overseas.

Threatening the festival’s ability to remain in the same location it has used year after year is foolish, as the three-day festival introduces newcomers to a neighborhood they might not otherwise become acquainted with when visiting Chicago as tourists.

If Maldonado chooses to continue campaigning against Riot Fest’s Humboldt Park location, he will only look increasingly disconnected from the supportive community within the ward he oversees.

As reported by DNAInfo, Humboldt Park residents have shown their support for Riot Fest’s use of the park, even sending letters to local officials urging them to allow the festival to be held in its usual location.

Maldonado should let go of whatever grudge he has against the festival and embrace the economic benefits the festival will bring the 26th Ward.

By joining hands with his neighbor, Petryshyn, Maldonado will get credit for the financial rewards and please the residents living in his ward.