RidgeFest’s dropping of national acts has mixed reaction

  • Written by Dermot Connolly


Ted - X cropped

No Terrible Ted.


No Joan Jett.

No Eddie Money.

Speaking of money, admission prices have been slashed in half for Ridge Fest 2015, the Chicago Ridge summer festival now in its 26th year, but the lack of big-name musicians is getting decidedly mixed reviews from regular fest-goers.

 “We were trying to bring down the price of admission,” said Chicago Ridge Mayor Charles Tokar recently, when asked about the event being held Thursday, July 23, through Sunday, July 26, at Freedom Park, 6252 Birmingham Ave. “These bands  we’re having may not be nationally known, but they are very good bands.”

The price of admission is $5 this year, and Chicago Ridge residents with IDs will be admitted free on Sunday, which is billed as Super Sunday Family Fun Day. In past years, admission cost $10 or $12, depending on the day, but performers such as Ted Nugent, Eddie Money, Peter Frampton, Bret Michaels and REO Speedwagon have headlined the festival traditionally held the last week of July.

Nugent has performed three times in recent years—2007, 2011 and 2013. But he won’t be there this time around. And that omission rankled some of the people posting on the Ridge Fest Facebook page.

Among the disgruntled commenters was a poster identified as Ronald George, who wrote, No Ted = no me. (And no 5,000 other people).”

Another poster identified as Judy Lachky said, “I look forward to the bigger names. Last year was a bust, and this year seems the same. I don’t mind paying a little extra to walk a block and see people like the Nuge, Bret Michaels, etc.”

But the page also had people happy about the changes.

“About time. The price was a turnoff the last few years and kept people away,” wrote one woman identified as Tiffany Ann.

 “Much better prices,” said a poster identified as  Dawn Laurenkus, while someone under the name  Wrayanne Simon Kolarik added it was  “a step in the right direction.”

 Even last year, Warrant was the only big-name band on stage at the fest, and some people said that was why the fest didn’t draw crowds as big as past years. Others said chilly weather was to blame.

This year, the Thursday night performers include Headbangers Ball and Infinity, both popular local cover bands that play regularly throughout the southwest suburbs. Hairbangers Ball is an ‘80s hair-rock tribute band, while Infinity is known for playing music made famous by Journey, REO Speedwagon and other well-known bands from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

Two bands known for playing dance music, Recycle the Day and Wedding Banned, featuring hits from the Motown era up to today, will be featured on Friday night.

Tokar said that on July 25, usually the night the top headliners play, two New Jersey-based cover bands will take the stage. Slippery When Wet describes itself as the “ultimate Bon Jovi tribute band,” while The B-Street Band is the "original Bruce Springsteen tribute band.”

“They might not be well-known here, but they are really good bands,” the mayor said.

Ryan Pelton, who plays Elvis music, and American English, one of the most accomplished Beatles acts, will be on stage Sunday. In addition to the usual fireworks show to close the event on Sunday, new this year is a laser-light show on Saturday night.

For those who do went to catch national acts at a local event, Warrant and Eddie Money will play at the third WeishFest July 18 at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood.