Riot Fest vs. Villapalooza: A Discussion of Music Festivals and Appropriation


More than half of the 75 residents attending a community meeting about Riot Fest’s recent move to Douglas Park said that they do not want the festival in the North Lawndale community. The meeting on June 23, which was called by 24th Ward Alderman Michael Scott Jr., let community members such as Sharaya Tindal, St. Agatha’s Church Restorative Justice Coordinator, voice reasons why the festival will hurt rather than help the neighborhood.

Tindal worries about potential damage to the park and that the interests of private companies are prioritized over community interests. In a letter to 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas, the neighborhood listed demands such as videotaped conditions before and after the fest to assess damage. They also asked for longstanding benefits to further community development such as funds to improve drainage in Douglas Park.  

In this piece, Real Chi Youth compares the impacts of commercial music festivals such as Riot Fest to local festivals such as Villapalooza in Little Village. We also investigate how some events cater to the neighborhood where they’re held by employing neighbors both as vendors and performing acts. We reached out to Riot Fest and they responded by saying that the Riot Fest Foundation is hosting a Community Job Fair to create jobs during the festival.

Even with this action, commercial festivals should be held at private venues or in central downtown areas where they do not disrupt communities.

By Annie Zorn and Evie Lacroix

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