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Riot Fest Review

Written by on October 5, 2023

Riot Fest Review

By, Syd Corpora

Riot Fest’s slogan is “Riot Fest Sucks” but as a dedicated riot fest attendee, I would beg to differ. Not only is Riot Fest an incredible music festival with killer line-ups and several quality stages, but it has delicious food, carnival rides, and other interesting attractions.


There are five Riot Fest stages: two main stages with jumbo screens at the center of the park– the Riot and the Roots stage– and three smaller stages spread throughout the park– the Rebel, the Rise, and the Radical stage. While all of these stages are pretty good, I think the least enjoyable stage is the Radical stage– compared to all the other stages, it is harder to find a good spot where you can see the bands play since it sits in a relatively flat area. My personal favorite is the smallest stage– the Rebel. It rests at the bottom of a hill, so it is easy to find a good spot and the energy is more contagious since it’s so small. The big stages are also pretty good because of the screens. They display mostly closeups of the different members of the bands as they are playing. The camera work often matched the mood of the band’s music. It makes watching in even the biggest crowds more enjoyable.


There are so many activities to do at Riot Fest. There are classic carnival rides like the ferris wheel, the swings, and a plethora of spinning rides, but there are also carnival games like skee ball. Along with the carnival aspect, there is a market with all sorts of vendors selling their goods. The market is so fun to walk around and you are usually able to find pretty cool stuff– I spent an embarrassing amount of money on pins, but I also got a gift for my upcoming anniversary. There are also other activities like a half pipe free for people to skate on, and a marriage chapel that holds ceremonies during the festival every year. There are so many activities it’s hard to see them all– I have gone for the past three years and just discovered that they have boxing there!


The food is another strong point of Riot Fest. Of course, they have the traditional carnival foods– corn dogs and funnel cakes– but there are so many alternate choices from giant slices of pizza the size of your head to delicious Hawaiian wok fried soba noodles. The most They feature local restaurants in order to support the neighborhood. There has been some history of the neighborhood not liking Riot Fest being held there; this is one of the ways the festival is trying to mend their relationship with the area– they also give everyone in the neighborhood a free ticket to either use or sell. It is also worth mentioning here that most of the food is generally expensive, so if you’re planning on going to Riot Fest, make sure you have a plan for how much you’re going to spend on food.


One of the biggest drawbacks to attending a festival like this is the cost. It is a large amount of money to spend all at once, and for a college student like me, it takes some serious saving. I went for all three days and purchased a regular ticket (not VIP or Deluxe– which offer other privileges like private bathrooms and sitting areas) which cost a little under $300 including fees. That is a lot of money and it makes my stomach turn to look at it now, but I saw 24 bands over the course of the three days. This made my average ticket price $12.50 per band. Not too bad! Now I get to tell people that I saw the Cure for $12.50. However, this logic only works if you go to the festival from top to bottom every day you attend– if you are only going to see 1-3 bands, you might not get as much bang for your buck. I recommend going as early as possible– the smaller bands that open the fest are super cool and I discover so many new awesome bands every year. It’s aso way less crowded and hectic at the beginning of the day.


Overall, Riot Fest is incredibly enjoyable. I saw artists that have been on my bucket list forever like The Cure, Teagan and Sara, and The Breeders, Artists I never would have seen otherwise but loved their performances like Ani Defranco, bowling for soup, and 100 geccs, and discovered new artists like Enola Gay, Pool Kids, and Jhenny Beth. I enjoyed good food, I got some great merch, and I had a great time!


10/10 would Riot Fest again.