Millions of people visit Grant Park each year and yet very few commit themselves to its care and maintenance. The Grant Park Summer Shade Festival is designed to be a low impact park friendly event that raises awareness and funds to help the Conservancy do its work. It provides an opportunity for the Conservancy to reach out with a message of stewardship and responsibility. It is also an opportunity to model the use of park space for an event and make the event respectfully fit the space.
For many years, events held in the park used and used and used the space but put nothing back. It was not unusual to see mounds of trash remain in the park for days, sometimes weeks. Damage to turf or plantings went unrepaired.
So, as the Conservancy began to build the Summer Shade Festival is was important to us that we send a message through how we manage the Festival and how we expect other events to be managed. It is possible to have an event in a park and not have an adverse effect (to an extent) but it takes planning, management and caring. We discourage large mega events because the park neither large enough or designed for huge events.
The Summer Shade Festival is a 2 day event that has grown from 800 attendees in year one (2003) to an expected attendance of over 20,000 in 2009.