The Backward River Festival: Moving forward with the Chicago River

Date / Time

October 16, 2021 - October 17, 2021

11:00 am - 7:00 pm

Join us Oct. 16 and 17 at the Eleanor Boathouse at Park No. 571 as we bring to life The Backward River  — a digital storytelling project from the Freshwater Lab at the University of Ilinois Chicago that sheds light on who benefits from the Chicago River, who bears the burden and how differently it is experienced, depending on where you live in the city.

Come reclaim your water and foster a sense of joy and community through dance, music, food and connection.

Together we will uplift the voices and narratives of those whose lives and communities have been disrupted as private interests manipulate the river — even reversing its flow — to their will, and reimagine what’s possible in moving forward with the Chicago River.

Enjoy knowledge-sharing and performances on the mainstage hosted by The Hoodoisie.

Connect to the river and each other through curated activities and engaging art installations.

Visit the community expo for meaningful exchanges with representatives from community-based organizations.

This event is free and open to the public. For details, visit

We are committed to fostering a festival environment that is inclusive, safe and accessible to everyone. We do not tolerate any harassment based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, body size, appearance, age or national origin.

To request special accommodations, submit questions or provide feedback, email

In accordance with University of Illinois Chicago, City of Chicago and CDC, masks are required at the Backward River Festival except when actively eating or drinking. We strongly encourage everyone to be fully vaccinated or have a negative COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours prior to attending.


Notice of filming and photography
Photographers and/or news media may be present at this event. By participating and being present during the event, you give the University of Illinois at Chicago the right to use photographs or video/audio recordings taken of you during the event for educational or promotional purposes and for sharing with external news media.

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