Made in America festival a key Philly experience

After the Made in America festival was in danger of leaving Philadelphia, students share what the event means to them.

The air was thick with humidity and bass as thousands of Made in America festivalgoers sang their favorite songs while Philadelphia’s skyline twinkled behind them.

Made in America is a two-day music festival, curated by hip-hop artist Jay-Z, that has been held on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway every Labor Day weekend since 2012.

In July, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced the festival would no longer be allowed at its Parkway location next year. Philadelphians started questioning whether the festival would move to another location in Philadelphia, or leave Philadelphia entirely.

The festival has long been criticized for its cost and negative effects on Philly residents.

When Philadelphia media outlet Billy Penn broke the story, annual Made in America attendees, like college students and young adults, expressed their concerns with moving the event out of the city.

“Moving [the festival] to anywhere outside of Philly would cause it to lose its essence,” said Julie Poliner, a sophomore kinesiology major who attended Made in America the last two years. “The festival was made to be down on the Parkway and nowhere else.”

She added she is a fan of the festival because it is “something big that only Philly has.”

In a column for the Inquirer, Jay-Z expressed his disappointment in Kenney’s decision and the city’s lack of communication with performing artists.

Almost a week after the announcement, Kenney and Desiree Perez, the chief operating officer of Jay-Z’s entertainment company Roc Nation, agreed to keep Made in America on the Parkway in coming years, according to a City press release. It stated both parties will work on “addressing operational and community challenges” resulting from the festival.

Mike Reynolds, a senior criminal justice major, attended Made in America the last two years. He thinks the festival has become a pop culture icon in the city.

“I like that it is just a fun weekend with a bunch of people my age getting together and listening to cool music,” Reynolds said. “They have some good acts this year.”

This year’s 71-artist lineup included performers like Post Malone, Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar and Meek Mill, a North Philadelphia native.

“This place is going to light up when Meek comes out, and I can’t wait,” said freshman psychology major Jelani Isom, who waited two hours on Saturday at the Rocky Stage near the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s steps for the rapper to perform.

Sophomore education major Madi Vaupel was also excited to see Meek Mill go on stage Saturday night.

“He is the definition of Philadelphia,” Vaupel said. “This festival is so cool and this is my first time here, so I’m excited.”

Some students, like sophomore speech pathology major Megan Flatley, rank Made in America as one of the best experiences of their college careers.

Flatley went to the festival for the first time during her freshman year. She met her roommate Delilah Hallowell, a sophomore education major, when their groups of friends attended the event together. She said she’s glad the festival will be staying in Philadelphia.

“I wouldn’t trade my Made [in America] experience for anything else,” Flatley said. “I encourage all Temple students to go at least once during their time here. It’s something they’ll remember for the rest of their [lives] and hopefully make new friends along the way.”

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