Three years after SummerFest ended its terrific but ultimately challenging run, Forest Park’s Chamber of Commerce is back with a new take on a summer street fair. MusicFest debuts this weekend — Friday evening through Sunday night — and it reflects the best efforts of the Chamber, all the many local backers of our Chamber and Star Events, the hired producer of the event, to create a venue that can draw a crowd and minimize the drama and knuckleheaded worries that ended SummerFest.

As its name plainly says, this is a festival built on music. And with 19 bands on two stages over three days the goal is to draw a crowd from across Chicago that wants good music, food and drink. Star Events is the ideal producer for the Chamber as it brings a strong and positive reputation for quality events, the ability to handle the enormous detail of organizing such a large event, and, as a founder on the ground floor, a willingness to bankroll the first year’s outing.

Beyond the focus on music, this event will be different in many key ways from SummerFest. Most notably, Madison Street will be fully secured with perimeter fencing and limited entry and exit points. There will be an entry fee to gain admission. Star Events will provide heavy security in the form of off-duty police officers. And, of course, Police Chief Tom Aftanas promises a heavy presence of Forest Park officers, too.

This is the necessary, if in some ways inconvenient, method of limiting and controlling a crowd at a major event in an urban suburban setting. Good for all parties to recognize it as essential.

Good for the Chamber, good for the village government, good for all the supporters to step back into this public event space. In recent years Forest Park shut down both SummerFest and the 4th of July fireworks over legitimate worries about thugs and lowlifes. But you can’t forever hand over control of such aspects of civic life to worries and fears. 

Forest Park has made a new plan, a bold and positive plan. And we can’t wait for the weekend.

Our Thai community

Forest Park is a village of immigrants. That is the proud and fascinating history of our village. 

By its nature, a community of immigrants means a lifetime of evolution and assimilation, and new challenges of inclusion and openness. 

Right now in Forest Park we are celebrating a success story as the St. Paul Thai Lutheran Church marks 30 years of worship in our town. What began as a deal to rent space from the old St. Paul Church, a community founded 135 years ago by Germans new to Forest Park, grew to full ownership as the old congregation shrank and the Thai community grew. When in 2010 St. Paul closed, the Thai community purchased the lovely church and joined the historic name of St. Paul’s with the Thai church. In fact, a small number of longtime St. Paul members continue to worship as part of the Thai community.

Our congratulations and admiration to this community of faith.