Riot Fest kicks off in Douglass Park despite neighborhood controversy

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

The multi-day music festival debuted in Chicago in 2005. In 2012, it moved into Humboldt Park, then in 2015, changed venues again – making Douglass Park its stomping grounds.

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

Despite recent controversy among community groups that are calling for the festival to move out of their neighborhood, Riot Fest is back for another year – set to run Friday through Sunday.

"It’s hard to find anywhere else with this punk rock specific vibe. For the whole weekend," said Brittany Rose Lonergan, who is attending Riot Fest.

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

"I've been waiting for this," said Lonergan.

Locals and tourists, alike, tell FOX 32 Chicago they are excited for what the fest will bring.

"We’ve been planning on coming here since literally March," said Bianca Perez, attending Riot Fest.

"She got me these tickets for my birthday, I was born in Elgin not too far from here, moved to San Diego when I was one, been there all my life, but Misfits," said Eric Jurkowlaniec, who is attending Riot Fest.

"The music and kind of reconnecting with my youth," said Kimberly Rose.


For some residents, however, the crowds and the noise are sore reminders of what they are missing when mega festivals make themselves at home.

"There are people who live 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 that want to see their greenspace free of major festivals.

"We don’t feel that we get anything out of it, we only get the problems," said Semer. "We’re not opposed to people having music and enjoying themselves, but there has to be another way, there has to be a venue that makes sense in the city of Chicago."

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

"We understand the concerns from residents and want to do everything to mitigate those concerns and remain a positive asset to the community. We have been in Douglass Park since 2015, and we consider it our home. We are really happy to have hundreds of neighborhood music fans coming to the festival with complementary tickets from Riot Fest. Today as part of our effort to support local businesses, we launched a new app with a map of area stores, cafes and other businesses. Initial data showed fans mapping the neighborhood thousands of time in the first day."