As we say hello to fall, we tend to reflect on and want to cling to the endless summer nights that weren’t so long ago. It wasn’t quite the 21st night of September, but the love in the hearts of the community chased the clouds and eventually the rain away at Chicago’s 5th Annual Westside Music Festival in late August. As one of the city’s last summer festivals, music lovers gathered in Douglas Park to celebrate some of the best in the Hip Hop and R & B industries. Emceed by Chicago radio personality Ramonski Luv, headliners MC Lyte, Slick Rick the Ruler and Kelly Price brought a crowd of nearly 7,500 attendees.
“We wanted to maintain the old school vibe with the combination of Hip Hop and R&B artists this year,” said Natashee Scott, executive director of the Westside Cultural Foundation (WCF).
With rain in the forecast and a couple of downpours, guests continued to congregate to the west side of the city for this once in a lifetime concert and stayed until the end. The producers were ready with ponchos for sale at the festival, which were shipped overnight, Scott said.
“For people to come out in the rain and stay in the rain was amazing,” she added.
Several local artists showcased their talents, which included The Voice contestant Mark Hood and the internationally acclaimed Hiplet Ballerinas, who recently performed at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York.
Local artist Tamish splits her time between NYC, LA and Chicago. Part of her time in her hometown this summer included performing at the festival, where she showcased songs that speak to her mission, which is to empower women.
“As women and people of color, we can be the change we want to see,” Tamish comments. “It was great to be a part of a festival that works to provide positive programming into Chicago. I want people to understand that in the midst of the violence and what is portrayed of our city, there are still people doing positive things and are a part of change. There’s a vibrant culture of Chicago and people are not one-dimensional.”
Earlier in the day, Ald. Michael Scott, Jr. (24th) hosted his annual back to school events for the children and activities for the senior citizens who attended the summer festival.
“Ald. Scott was a huge part of it [the festival] and it was encouraging to see because he was with the people and he is of the people,” Tamish adds.
With support from both the west and south sides of the city, there were 26 volunteers and 27 sponsors this year, compared to previous years of the festival. Scott said community businesses were an added feature, which included food trucks and food tents, because they wanted to push business toward the sponsors.
“To get that level of support is appreciated,” the executive director said.
As Ald. Scott and the WCF plan for next year’s festival, the focus remains to create a safe and entertaining environment for all who attend.
“It’s wonderful to see people at Douglas Park enjoying themselves in a safe, family friendly environment,” Scott said. “We appreciate the support of BMO Harris Bank and all of our sponsors. We're already planning for next year. It's going to bigger and better.”
Photo Credit: Eddy Precise Lamarre