Riot Fest kicks off in Douglass Park despite neighborhood controversy

Taking place this weekend, thousands of punk rock and alternative music lovers descend on Douglass Park for Riot Fest.

The multi-day music festival got its start in Chicago in 2005. In 2012 it moved to Humboldt Park, then in 2015 it changed location again, making Douglass Park its playground.

While festival-goers tell us every year that they look forward to the event, some neighbors don’t feel the same way.

Despite recent controversy among community groups demanding that the festival leave their neighborhoods, Riot Fest is back for another year – which will run Friday through Sunday.

“It’s hard to find anywhere else with that specific punk rock vibe. For the whole weekend,” said Riot Fest attendee Brittany Rose Lonergan.

This year’s festival features dozens of musical acts, including headliners like Nine Inch Nails, The Original Misfits and My Chemical Romance.

“I’ve been waiting for this,” Lonergan said.

Locals and tourists alike tell FOX 32 Chicago they’re excited for what the festival will bring.

“We’ve been planning to come here since literally March,” said Riot Fest attendee Bianca Perez.

“She gave me these tickets for my birthday. I was born in Elgin not far from here, moved to San Diego when I was a year old, been there my whole life, but Misfits” , said Eric Jurkowlaniec, who participates in Riot Fest.

“Music and genre reconnecting with my youth,” said Kimberly Rose.


For some residents, however, the crowds and noise are painful reminders of what they miss when mega festivals come to their homes.

“There are people living around here, and they are not happy,” said Robin Semer, member of Únete La Villita.

Earlier this week, a letter to the City of Chicago was signed by more than 25 local organizations who want to see their green space free of major festivals.

“We don’t feel like we get anything out of it, we just get the problems,” Semer said. “We’re not opposed to people having music and having fun, but there’s got to be another way, there’s got to be a meaningful place in the city of Chicago.”

In response, a Riot Fest spokesperson issued the following statement to FOX 32 Chicago:

“We understand residents’ concerns and want to do everything we can to ease those concerns and remain a positive asset to the community. We’ve been in Douglass Park since 2015, and call it home. We’re truly happy to have hundreds of local music fans coming to the festival with complimentary Riot Fest tickets. Today, as part of our efforts to support local businesses, we launched a new app with a map of shops, cafes and other businesses Early data showed fans were mapping the neighborhood, thousands of hours from day one.”

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