Riot Fest has announced new community initiatives as part of its “Beyond the Fest” program. Born out of community meetings involving over 150 voices, the festival has listened to the needs and aspirations of the local residents of North Lawndale and Little Village in Chicago. The festival has incorporated local talent into its lineup, selected vendors from community workshops, and organized a White Sox camp for kids.

The “Beyond the Fest” initiative focuses on strengthening the connection between the festival and the surrounding community. The festival has seen a three-fold increase in job applications locally, with over 600 applications returned, indicating the enthusiasm of the community to participate.

The musical history of Chicago’s west side has been rich and vibrant since the city’s inception. Riot Fest has committed itself to showcase this talent, launching a local talent contest which saw three winners from 70 applicants. The winning artists, including hip-hop artist 1300cadoe, indie rock duo Future Nobodies, and hardcore group Through n Through, will be performing at the festival. To recognize the vast pool of talent, Riot Fest has created a community band playlist to highlight other talented artists who participated in the contest.

Riot Fest’s commitment extends to aspiring entrepreneurs, as it hosted two vendor workshops, the first of its kind from a music festival. Free for neighborhood residents, these workshops covered finance, equipment, food safety, sanitation, and more. Twenty-nine local businesses participated, with ten earning a free booth at the festival. The skills acquired from these workshops will empower these businesses to operate at other events throughout the city. Eric Lindsay of Lindsay Italian Ice expressed his excitement to use the skills learned to serve more Chicagoans.

The winners of the fee-free vendor spots include Alberta’s BBQ, Brunch n’ Burgers, Box Lunch Cafe, Yum Yum Lemonade, Bombon Cake Gallery & Cafe, Los Comales, 3 Kings Jerk and Soul LLC, Ida’s Ice Cream, Lindsay Italian Ice, Corgwell Catering, and Taqueria Mi Lindo Mexico. The Riot Fest app, which featured GPS-based restaurants in North Lawndale and Little Village, received over 12,000 searches last year. An expanded version of the app will be available this year.

In addition to the new initiatives, Riot Fest continues to sponsor sports teams and clinics in the community. This year, they will partner with the White Sox for a clinic on August 20th. Participants will receive exclusive White Sox gift bags, including a kids’ drawstring bag, a Chicago White Sox flag, a player magnet, a Tim Anderson chain, and a pack of Topps baseball cards. Parking for the clinic will be available on Farrar Drive and Sacramento Drive.

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