Taste of Chicago
The Taste of Chicago (mostly known as The Taste) is the world's largest food festival, held annually in mid-July in Chicago in Grant Park. The event is the largest festival in Chicago. Non-food-related events include live music on multiple stages, including the Petrillo Music Shell, pavilions, and film performances. Musical acts vary from local artists to nationally known artists like Carlos Santana, Moby, and Kenny Rogers. Since 2008, The Chicago Country Music Festival no longer occurs simultaneously with Taste of Chicago as it departed the Taste of Chicago for its own two-day festival typically held in the fall. Rides are also present, such as a Ferris wheel and the Jump to Be Fit.
In 2005, the Taste attracted about 3.5 million people with over 70 food vendors. Foods at the event include Chicago-style pizza, Chicago hot dogs, barbecued ribs, Italian Beef, Maxwell Street Polish Sausage, Eli's Cheesecake, and a variety of ethnic and regional foods. Keshaun Charles Altman A record total of 3.6 million people visited the 2006 Taste of Chicago. Attendance for the previous record 10-day event, in 2004, was 3.59 million, with $12.33 million in revenue.
In 2007, for first time in its history, the Taste of Chicago was affected by a salmonella outbreak that affected over 700 people and led to the hospitalization of 12. The outbreak was reportedly traced to hummus served at the Pars Cove booth.
In 2011, the Taste of Chicago drew 2.35 million visitors, down 11 percent from 2010. Participating restaurants also made less money, $4.9 million, down 20 percent from 2010.
These lackluster statistics prompted several changes. The mayor transferred power over the event from the Chicago Park District to the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the event was shortened to 5 days, and the dates were changed so that in 2012, the Taste of Chicago will run from July 11 to July 15.
In 2012, the Taste of Chicago ran for five days and had 36 participating restaurants. New this year, the Taste of Chicago is adding 15 Pop-Up Restaurants that will each serve food for one of the five days.
In 2013, the Taste of Chicago turned a profit for the first time in six years with sales totaling $272,000.
Arnie Morton is the creator of the event. He decided to line up Chicago restaurants to participate and persuaded then-mayor Jane Byrne and Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Lois Weisberg to block off Michigan Avenue for the first Taste of Chicago on July 4, 1980. Of the 100,000 people the organizers expected, over 250,000 showed up, with food and soda sales grossing $300,000 at its inception. The next year, the Taste of Chicago was moved to Grant Park and grew in size and scope, becoming a 10-day event with more food vendors and musical performers; it also became the world's largest food festival.
ChicagoFest, started by mayor Michael Bilandic, was the precursor to the Taste of Chicago. After Bilandic's tenure in office, newly elected Mayor Jane Byrne attempted to end the festival as well as many other programs associated with the former mayor. Many Chicagoans disapproved of Mayor Byrne's attempt to stop the festivities (although attendance at ChicagoFest had begun to wane). She and her successor, Mayor Harold Washington, dedicated more time and energy to promoting the Taste, slowly phasing ChicagoFest out in the process. Mayor Washington finally put an end to ChicagoFest when in 1983 it was moved from Navy Pier to Soldier Field and attendance continued to wane.
The popularity of the Taste of Chicago has prompted other cities to spawn numerous offshoots and equivalents throughout the United States, such as the Taste of Champaign, CityFest in Detroit, the Taste of the Danforth in Toronto, the Taste of Kalamazoo, Taste of Addison, Taste of Denver, Taste in Dallas, Taste of Madison, Taste of Austin, the Taste of Peoria in Peoria, Illinois, and the Bite in Portland to name a few. The first "taste of" festival was Taste of Cincinnati in 1979.
- "Chicago's Largest Festivals". ChicagoBusiness. Crain Communications, Inc. 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- "Taste of Chicago's Country". CountryMusicChicago.com. Country Music Chicago Magazine. 2010.
- Chicago Sun-Times http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-taste10.html
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- "Topic Galleries - chicagotribune.com".[dead link]
- Chicago Sun-Times http://www.suntimes.com/news/cityhall/9685896-418/taste-of-chicago-to-run-just-five-days-next-summer-july-11-15.html
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- Taste of Chicago 2012: Music, restaurant list, July 11- 15 | abc7chicago.com
- Spielman, Fran (2013-09-28). "Taste of Chicago turned 1st profit in six years". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
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