The Backward River Festival: Damen Silo City

Date / Time

June 8, 2024

2:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Join the Freshwater Lab at the University of Illinois Chicago for The Backward River Festival: Damen Silo City on the west side of the Canalport Riverwalk Park. The festival will celebrate the efforts and achievements of environmental justice advocates and artists who live and/or work around the Damen Silos; bring attention to the history and current state of the Damen Silos; invite attendees to consider the impacts of demolition on residents; and highlight alternative community visions for redevelopment, design and integration.

The festival will include information tables and activities from community groups and Chicago organizations, performances and a chance for attendees to see and reflect on the Damen Silos from across the water. Because the silos are slated for demolition, the festival will provide a unique opportunity for a farewell to the structure and contemplation of its history. 

As with all of our previous events in parks along the South Branch, this will be free and open to the public.

The festival will cap off a program supported by the University of Illinois Presidential Initiative for Arts and Humanities, for which The Freshwater Lab hosted cultural events along the South Branch of the Chicago River. Those events were a two-day festival in October 2021 at Park 571, an event in September 2022 at Canalport Riverwalk Park to launch Rio de Bienvenida/River of Welcome and a festival in June 2023 at Park 571 to unveil Rio de Bienvenida/River of Welcome.

More information about the festival will be posted on The Freshwater Lab website and its social media channels. In the meantime, please email your questions to


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