City Taking New Approach to 2011 Taste of Chicago
The City of Chicago is taking a new approach to the 2011 Taste of Chicago by turning over the operations of the food festival to the Chicago Park District and incorporating several annual music fests into the summer event.
Importantly, the Taste of Chicago will continue to be without an admission fee and will reset its focus as a family-oriented celebration of local food and music.
“A new approach to the Taste will allow us to hold this great event that residents and visitors have come to know and love, while enabling us to keep it free and open to all participants,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent Timothy Mitchell.
“Mayor Daley has stressed the importance of keeping the Taste of Chicago free with no admission fee, especially during these tough economic times. Our goal is to do just that while also ensuring that the Taste remains economically viable,” he said.
In order to achieve this, Mitchell said the Park District will be scaling back the emphasis on big musical acts, which are expensive to program, and focus on bringing the Taste back to its roots as a family-oriented celebration of food.
The 2011 Taste of Chicago will run for ten days, from Friday, June 24th through Sunday, July 3rd.
By moving the Taste of Chicago under park district management, Mitchell said that a number of production costs can be further reduced by utilizing the district’s partnerships.
Mitchell said the park district will also continue the City’s partnership with the Illinois Restaurant Association, who has helped to run the Taste of Chicago since its inception 30 years ago.
This year, four of the City’s annual lakefront music festivals – Viva Chicago, the Chicago Country Music Festival, Celtic Fest Chicago and the Chicago Gospel Music Festival – will be incorporated into the Taste of Chicago, rather than be planned as stand-alone events.
“Due to the national recession, all four of these events have been impacted by lower attendance, a lack of corporate sponsorship interest and declining sales,” said Dorothy Coyle, First Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). “In these tough economic times it doesn’t make sense for the City to continue funding these as stand-alone events.”
This new plan will allow Chicago to continue to produce these festivals, but without the additional expenses associated with maintaining them as stand-alone events – including security, stage production and food and beverage marketing. By incorporating them into the Taste, which will already have those elements covered, those expenses will be greatly reduced.
At the same time, there are a number of similar neighborhood festivals and ethnic celebrations that feature these particular musical genres. The City is committed to continuing to promote and provide support to these neighborhood events as well, Coyle said.
Coyle also announced that the popular Chicago Blues and Jazz Festivals will continue to operate in Grant Park as stand-alone events on June 10th-12th and September 2nd-4th, respectively.
DCASE will also continue to present the popular summer concerts and events in Millennium Park. Since the park opened in 2004, these free programs have drawn millions of visitors.
Some of the highlights that will be back this summer include: the Grant Park Music Festival, which is presented in partnership with the Park District; the Music Without Borders world music series; and Downtown Sound: New Music Mondays.
“We believe that the new approach we are taking this year will be successful and allow for visitors, residents and families to enjoy food, entertainment and fun this summer,” Coyle said.