Despite concerns that rushed planning could lead to problems with security, safety, and logistics, Woodstars Summer Carnival and Music Festival came and went this weekend with almost no problems.
The four-day hip-hop festival was plagued by low attendance, but many of the worries going into the festival were not realized. There was concern that the event might not find a home, that acts wouldn’t perform, that fights could erupt, and that rushed planning would prevent medical attendants and police officers from properly implementing their security strategies.
Forest Park officials were also worried that traffic on arterial streets around the festival – Maywood and Proviso East are just west of the village on Madison Street – would likely be heavy because of the festival and the No Gloves softball tournament over the weekend, but there were few backups.
Safety and security were hardly an issue, according to Tim Curry, Maywood’s chief of police. “I was pleasantly surprised that no one said anything or did anything to incite reactions from any of the police,” said Curry. “There were no law enforcement issues. Not one arrest.”
Curry said that a few ambulances were dispatched for heat exhaustion calls, but that was the only safety concern. He didn’t even hear anyone use profane language.
Police from Maywood and the Cook County Sheriff provided much of the security for Woodstars, which was held at Proviso East High School, July 28-31. Neither department has completed a report that will assess the outcome, tally costs and manpower. Nonetheless, Steve Patterson, a spokesperson for the Cook County Sheriff’s Department estimated that the event would cost Cook County taxpayers “in the six figures.”
Reportedly, all of the billed artists performed. For several days, it was unclear if organizers had booked the talent they were advertising because several of the artists did not list the Woodstars event on their respective Web pages. Some of the big-name acts who performed on a stage set up on the Proviso East football field included Nelly, Faith Evans, Slick Rick and Naughty By Nature.
Sheriff’s police had to close off an area on Madison Street by the football field to passersby because a look through the fence provided free views of the performers.
Promoters were initially expecting some 20,000 people over the course of the four-day fest, but Curry said only a few thousand came all weekend. No official tally was kept by Maywood police, but the chief estimated between 2,000 and 4,000 showed up over the course of the weekend. Event organizer A’jensee 3.1.2. Co. did not return calls or respond to emails inquiring about the number of attendees.
Woodstars was a fundraiser for Proviso District 209 schools. Its chief sponsors were the Michael Finley Foundation and the Shannon Brown Foundation. Finley is an NBA veteran and Brown plays for the Los Angeles Lakers; both are Proviso East alumni.
“From all the feedback we are receiving, the Woodstars Festival and Carnival was an amazing success for the Proviso Community,” wrote Chris Welch, Proviso District 209 school board president, in an email to the Review. “I want to thank the Michael Finley and Shannon Brown foundations for what they did for the community and our schools in particular. It is obvious they are proud to be Proviso alums.”
It is not clear how much money the festival raised – Welch directed that question to event organizer Keoki Allen of A’jensee 3.1.2.Co. Neither Allen nor A’jensee 3.1.2. Co. responded.
Woodstars landed at Proviso East at the 11th hour, after organizers tried for months to find it a home. The Village of Hillside denied organizers the necessary permits to stage the show at Proviso West, and Maywood officials even talked about staging it at Bushwood driving range. It wound up at Proviso East after the Cook County board approved an amended ordinance, just days before the event, which allowed it to take place.
Photos by J. GEIL/Staff photographer