One of the great free Chicago summer traditions, the Taste of Chicago (Chicago’s annual foodie festival) will undergo big changes in 2012 and be shortened to five days instead of the historical ten days. In addition, the start of the Taste will be pushed back to July 11-15, according to the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, rather than the 10 period leading up to the 4th of July. Public Relations and Media Specialist Mary May said the decision to change the length and date is focused primarily on event organization. “In looking at the festival calendar, we wanted to balance the free offerings provided by the city over the warm weather months,” May said. “The five-day model allows more restaurants to apply, controls the operating budget for the Taste, and allows a more flexible financial model so the Taste is an enjoyable opportunity for all the residents of Chicago without burdening the taxpayers. We believe this can improve the experience for all Taste-goers,”.
In addition to the changes, Mayor Rahm Emanuel decided to place the responsibility back in the Dept. of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. “In 2011, Mayor Daley gave the Taste to the [Chicago] Park District in an effort to be more efficient,” May said. “Mayor Emanuel has brought the event back to the Dept. of Cultural Affairs and Special Events with the hopes of making it more profitable.”
However, the Park District is still heavily involved in festival organization. “For all events held in Grant Park, we work closely with the Chicago Park District,” May said. “As a sister agency, we consider them a partner on Taste.”