This summer, Forest Park residents will be able to enjoy three nights of musical acts, delicious food and family-friendly activities at the newly conceived Forest Park MusicFest, a replacement for the former SummerFest. At its March 23 meeting, the Forest Park Village Council authorized the Chamber of Commerce to host the event, to be held this July. 

All council members voted in favor except for Commissioner Mark Hosty, who abstained, citing his role as president of the Chamber of Commerce as a potential conflict of interest. In addition to musical acts and children’s activities, the festival will also help attract business for local establishments, according to a letter from Laurie Kokenes, executive director of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce.

A similar two-day event, SummerFest, was discontinued in 2013 due to public safety concerns and disorderly behavior by some attendees. However unlike in the past, the Chamber hired Star Events, a Chicago festival company, to help organize MusicFest. The new festival will occupy Madison Street between Circle and Ferdinand avenues and attendees will be subject to an entrance fee. There will be two music stages and street vendors throughout the enclosed festival area.

According to Kokenes, Star Events will provide gating, security and staffing while maintaining Forest Park’s “local favor.” When reached for comment, Commissioner Hosty offered Taste of Lakeview, another Star Events festival, as a model. When asked about the similarities between MusicFest and SummerFest, Hosty remarked that Star Events will run “a bit of a different program” and pointed to the company’s experience running festivals throughout Chicago. He stressed that the company will fence in the festival area to ensure safety and noted that MusicFest will have more outside vendors. When asked if the upcoming event will be more family oriented than SummerFest, Hosty responded, “That’s the goal.”

During comments to the Review, Mayor Calderone was careful to add that MusicFest will be an event hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and Star Events, not the village of Forest Park. Calderone clarified that it was the Chamber of Commerce, not the Village, that decided to cancel SummerFest two years ago. He also expressed his excitement about the upcoming event and his approval regarding the extra security Star Events will provide.

Details on musical acts are not yet available.

The event will be Friday, July 17 from 5 to 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, July 18-19, from noon to 10 p.m. 

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