Hyde Park Summer Fest, a large two-day music festival on the Midway Plaisance, is expected to draw more than 20,000 people each day, organizers said at a meeting of the Midway Plaisance Advisory Council (MPAC) last Wednesday, April 12.

The festival will run from June 17 to 18 on the Midway between Ellis and Woodlawn avenues. The hip-hop, house and jazz performances will begin around 12 p.m. and end around 10 p.m.

“We’re trying to build community, trying to draw people to Hyde Park,” said Jonathan Swain, festival organizer and owner of Kimbark Beverage Shoppe, 1214 E. 53rd St.

Admission for the festival currently runs from $89 for a single-day pass and $149 for a two-day pass. While presenting plans to MPAC, Swain said that more than $50,000 worth of tickets will be donated to local nonprofits, schools and other organizations to distribute around the community.

Swain noted that last year, the festival’s first on the Midway, around 25,000 people attended from 15 different states and more than 1,100 zip codes.

Former head of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, Wallace Goode, is serving as this year’s community liaison. He told MPAC members that his top priority is how the festival treats the Woodlawn and Hyde Park communities.

“We learned a lot of lessons and we made mistakes (last year),” Goode said. “We’re going to fix those mistakes.”

Chief among these mistakes, Swain and Goode said, was the destruction to the park’s grass and the time it took to reopen the Midway for public use. Goode attributed this to the contractors, who have not been invited back. This year, elevated pathways to the park will also be constructed to minimize the heavy equipments’ impact on the grass.

Swain said the Midway will be turned back over to the Chicago Park District the following Thursday, June 22. He noted that one of the challenges is aerating, seeding and watering the damaged ground, which they’re going to work with the Park District to turn around more quickly this year.

As for security, Summer Fest has contracted NPB Companies, a global event staffing and security company that works on Lollapalooza.

Regarding traffic, parking passes to residents living near the Midway will be issued again this year. To mitigate congestion in East Hyde Park due to roadwork around Jackson Park, Swain said all public entrances are on the Midway’s west end.

Earlier that day, at a Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners meeting, the board provisionally approved Hyde Park Summer Fest’s application for a special event permit. This is a new process created following years of complaints from nearby residents about the effects of large events in parks, particularly in Douglass Park — which hosts several large summer festivals, including Riot Fest, Summer Smash and Heatwave.

staff writer

Zoe Pharo is a graduate of Carleton College. She was recently an editorial intern for In These Times, and has also written for Little Village and Chapel Hill Magazine. 

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