Meet John Papara

By Marianne Walsh 

When BAPA approached John Papara to work closely with the Ridge Run committee to plan and present BAPA’s most people-intensive event, the Ridge Run on Memorial Day, he did not hesitate. Papara will be serving as a vendor liaison while assisting with permit coordination, vendor contacts and organizing teams for the run. In addition, Papara is serving as Coordinator for this season’s BAPA Porch Concert series. 

Papara and his wife, Allison, opened Made Artisan Collaborative, 1802 W. 103rd St., in August 2021 to showcase artists, artisans and makers from Chicago and beyond. The creative duo also enjoys giving a voice to local performers and storytellers through Wordfetti and their Word on 103rd series.   

While not runners, Papara and his wife are avid fans of the Ridge Run.  

“There is nothing quite like the support the neighborhood shows for the event,” Papara said. “Watching multiple generations of Beverly and adjacent neighborhoods come out in droves to support the race is inspiring. The entire route is full of decorations and cheering fans. And of course, the athleticism of the runners is very motivating!” 

Although the Ridge Run makes race day look like it’s so easy, looks are deceiving. From filing a variety of permits to making sure the race course is in good condition to ordering four different race bibs and runner t-shirts in a mind boggling number of sizes to making sure there’s plenty of water on race day to . . . well, you get it – there are a lot of moving parts to manage for the Ridge Run.   

Papara brings an impressive background of event planning to BAPA, therefore, our community. He has worked for Live Nation in Milwaukee and as a marketing administrator for an office putting on concerts for both small and large venues. 

“I have done everything from ordering port-o-potties for an NSYNC concert to driving magician David Copperfield to an all-night diner at 2 a.m. There have been so many fun and crazy stories to be told in the concert business!” 

Papara is currently in the process of band selection for the Porch Concert series and hopes to have acts locked down in the next few weeks. The series will be held on Fridays, May 12, June 9, July 14, Aug. 11, and Sept. 8. It will culminate with a music festival on Sat., Oct. 7. The Porch concerts are free and feature all local bands playing outdoors on blocks in each area of the neighborhood.  

Papara has big aspirations for the event growing into a larger concert event. He sees the Porch Concert series as primed to transition into a Beverly/Morgan Park version of the North Side Square Roots Festival. 

When asked about the biggest challenge in planning such an event, Papara does not hesitate. 

“Weather. Weather is always an issue. Yet the final outcome makes all those sleepless nights completely worthwhile. Seeing the smiles on the faces of concert attendees while they dance and buy the music of bands they have never enjoyed? All the stress and worry melt away.” 

As a seasoned event professional, Papara envisions families coming out to enjoy the food trucks and kid-focused areas with attractions for all ages. He is also investigating having a market area for vendors and a tent where people can sign up to be BAPA members. He is confident the “Love Where You Live” swag will be a huge hit. 

With Papara juggling multiple hats between Made Artisan Collaborative, the Ridge Run and the Porch Concert series, one might wonder if the man actually does sleep. He is quick to credit both his wife Allison as well as BAPA for providing constant support and guidance. 

“BAPA has welcomed me like a family member. As a small business owner, I have been awed and touched by how the community supports and believes in each other. It is more than I could have ever imagined.” 

Ridge Run registration is open online at bapa.org and BAPA is recruiting volunteers (which can also be done at bapa.org) to help with all kinds of pre-race and race day tasks.  More details about the Porch Concerts will be coming soon.  

Follow BAPA on Facebook and Instagram and visit bapa.org for Ridge Run and Porch Concert updates.   

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