|Taste of Chicago|
One of the entrances to the Taste of Chicago, 2007
The Taste of Chicago (known locally as The Taste) is the world's largest food festival, held for five days in July in Chicago, Illinois 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 performances. Musical acts vary from local artists to nationally known artists like Carlos Santana, Moby, Kenny Rogers or Robert Plant. 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.
Arnie Morton is the creator of the event. He decided to line up Chicago restaurants to participate and persuaded then- Chicago 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.
In 2005, the Taste attracted about 3.9 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. A 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. 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. On Saturday, July 12, 2014, the Taste of Chicago closed because of severe weather--the first time the festival was canceled for the entire day because of "excessive rainfall and flooding on the festival grounds".
On July 12, 2007, city officials reported that an outbreak beginning in the Pars Cove Persian Cuisine booth caused 17 people to fall ill of Salmonella poisoning. Of those affected, three were hospitalized, including one minor. City officials started to receive reports of sickness on Monday but waited to issue a notice until Wednesday. The notice warned the public about symptoms and causes behind the bacteria that is spread by consuming foods contaminated with animal feces. After a thorough investigation of the Pars Cove Persian Cuisine booth, it was determined that the cucumber hummus and pomegranate chicken were the source of the illness. The booth failed a previous routine inspection for serving undercooked dishes but city officials did not file the report until Wednesday. City health inspectors found several violations at the restaurant including unsanitary conditions, improper refrigeration, and mouse droppings.
||This section needs to be updated. (July 2017)|
The festival hosts a wide variety of performers.
|July 10-14, 2013||Delta Spirit, fun., Estelle, Robin Thicke, The Lone Bellow, Robert Plant Presents The Sensational Space Shifters, Chloe and Hallie, IM5, Maxi Priest, Jill Scott, The Mowgli's, Neon Trees|
|July 11-15, 2012||Jennifer Hudson, Luke James, Death Cab for Cutie, Calexico, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Fitz & the Tantrums, Roshon Fagen, Shealeigh, Chaka Khan, Raphael Saadiq, Dierks Bentley, Lindi Ortega|
|June 24 - July 3, 2011||Greyson Chance, Shane Harper, The Jayhawks, Everest, Loretta Lynn, Court Yard Hounds, Natalie Cole, Liz Carroll, The Lemonheads,Broadway In Chicago, Donald Lawrence, Soul Asylum, Rare Earth, Los Horoscopos De Durango, 2012, Jose Valdes & The Mambo All Stars, California Wives, Empires, Yeah Dude, St8 of grace|
|June 25 - July 4, 2010||Rob Base, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh, Salt-n-Pepa, Bell Biv Devoe, Gavin Rossdale, Allstar Weekend, Emily Osment, Broadway In Chicago, Los Lobos, Los Lonely Boys, Brett Dennen, Mat Kearney, Teairra Mari, Trey Songz, Rob Thomas, Steve Miller Band|
|June 26 - July 5, 2009||Charlie Wilson of the Gap Band, the Wallflowers, Chicago rockers Lovehammers, Broadway in Chicago, Barenaked Ladies, Ne-Yo, Super Diamond, Afrodisiacs, Buddy Guy, Mitchell Musso, Jordan Pruitt|
|June 27 - July 6, 2008||Chaka Khan, Angie Stone, Stevie Wonder, Plain White T'S, Josh Kelley, Broadway In Chicago, Joss Stone, Ryan Shaw, Fantasia, Estelle, Gomez, Alejandro Escovedo, Bonnie Raitt, Aly & AJ, A Cursive Memory, Keke Palmer|
|July 9-13, 2007||The Black Crowes, Cracker, Cheap Trick, John Mayer, Los Lonely Boys, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Soul Asylum, and Umphrey's McGee|
|June 30 - July 9, 2006||The O'Jays, 3PC, Risque, Glen Campbell, Yonder Mountain String Band, Phil Vassar, SHeDAISY, Jo Dee Messina, Ray Davies, My Morning Jacket, Mike Doughty, India.Arie, Anthony Hamilton, Train, Mat Kearney, Macy Gray, Liquid Soul, Liz Phair, Fountains of Wayne, World Party, Dennis DeYoung, Kenny Wayne Shepherd|
|June 24 - July 4, 2005||LL Cool J, LeAnn Rimes, Aaron Tippin, Clint Black, Julie Roberts, Broadway in Chicago, Donna Summer, The Gap Band, Morris Day & the Time, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Creedence Clearwater, Steve Winwood, Dr. John, Santana, Los Lonely Boys Salvador Santana Band|