Folks planning to attend the Woodstars Summer Carnival and Music Festival at Proviso East this week are likely going because the moon was promised. For a pittance ($25), concertgoers have been told they can catch a glimpse of world-famous acts like Nelly and hip-hop legends Naughty By Nature and Slick Rick, according to the event’s website.
Woodstars is a four-day carnival and concert extravaganza, scheduled to run July 28-31. Its stated aim is to raise money to fund much-needed repairs at District 209’s high schools, so it’s definitely a noble cause. But A’jensee 3.1.2. Co., the event organizer, appears to be steering this thing down a perilous course, while D209 officials have taken a back seat for the ride and are offering little direction.
Woodstars faces an array of challenges and potential problems that could doom it to failure. It has changed venues four times. Organizers were denied permits by the Village of Hillside because of safety and logistical concerns; it’s not clear they have actually locked in the talent they’re advertising; and the Cook County Sheriff’s police only found out they were working security a week ago, which gives them little time to prepare. What’s more, county taxpayers will have to pay “six figures” for the Cook County Sheriff’s police to be there, according to the Sheriff’s office.
The event could draw close to 20,000 people. What happens if tens of thousands show up expecting to see Nelly, Twista and Slick Rick, and organizers can’t deliver? Police who were rushed into planning an ad hoc security plan a week beforehand could be dealing with some very unhappy people.
We articulated some of these concerns in last week’s Web article “Plans for massive Woodstars festival still shaky,” and during a phone interview with WWWN 101.1 FM. The station called the Review and pointed out that a number of the artists listed as performers on the website do not have this event listed on their own official tour calendars.
They, too, cited our article when they informed listeners that security, parking and medical logistics were still being worked out.
A’jensee 3.1.2 Co. would not comment on these concerns as recently as Monday – three days before the event is slated to start.
“I don’t have that information,” said Jazmin Hall, to most of our questions. She did say, however, that the festival was still on, and that all of the advertised artists were going to perform.
D209 claims it has “no involvement,” even though it is renting out Proviso East, the event is a fundraiser for the schools, and a number of officials corresponded with Hillside to try to hold the event at Proviso West, which Hillside officials, probably wisely, turned away.
It’s a good cause, but there’s just too much at stake – like people’s safety. Organizers should try again next year with smaller-name acts and a less-grandiose event.
We’ve got our fingers crossed on this one.