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Made in America Festival Los Angeles: What was it like in Philadelphia?

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Rapper Jay-Z announces the Made in America festival on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall.
Alice Walton/KPCC
Rapper Jay-Z announces the Made in America festival on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall.

Mayor Eric Garcetti and Jay Z announced plans to bring Philadelphia's Made in America festival to LA's Grand Park, which has residents worried about the impact.

Last week, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and rapper Jay Z announced plans to bring 50,000 fans to Downtown's Grand Park. The Made In America Festival, set to take place over Labor Day weekend will be the new park's first time playing host to a concert this big, and that has Downtown residents worried.

City councilman Jose Huizar, whose district contains Grand Park, has argued the festival might disrupt traffic, hurt businesses and damage Grand Park irreparably. 

But the city of Philadelphia will host its third Made in America, or MIA festival this year, during the same time as LA's. Mayor Garcetti has argued Philadelphia's economy enjoyed a $10 million bump as a result. But what was the festival like for locals?

To find out, Off-Ramp producer Kevin Ferguson called Bill Chenevert, senior music writer for the Philadelphia Weekly.

Chenevert said it started with a press conference held at the Philadelphia Art Museum steps, the same steps featured in Sylvester Stallone's "Rocky." Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter appeared alongside Jay Z and Philadelphia rapper Freeway.  The city was to host a weekend long concert inside the Philadelphia's iconic Benjamin Franklin parkway.

"Jay Z and Kanye [West] were slated as the primary headliners. We were purely pumped," said Chenevert. "From a music standpoint, I thought this is gonna be awesome, I can't wait to go."

As it's been with Downtown LA, Philadelphia residents worried about damage the parkway could suffer from foot traffic and garbage.

"Most of the concern and questions were about not only the sanctity of the park and the public spaces nearby the festival," said Chenevert.

But he was surprised to see how the recovery went. "There was a lot of parts of grass in Fairmount Park that were totally beat down into dust and dirt," he said. "Within a week, I rode my bike passed it and thought 'can you believe that perhaps 100,000 people were stampeding all over this square footage just last weekend?'"

Overall, while Chenevert acknowledged that the Made in America festival's disruption might have been minimal, he doesn't plan to go to anymore. Like a lot of festivals, the beer's expensive, the crowds are rowdy and, to him, the great music isn't worth it.

"At the end of last Summer's Made in America, I told my music editor I'm never doing that again," he said. 

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