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Taste of Chicago: A Popular Food Festival

May 14, 2008
In 1980, a group of restaurateurs approached the Mayor of Chicago with the idea of a food festival on the Fourth of July. It was the birth of Taste of Chicago. Confidence was high that the one-day event could attract 75,000 people. Instead, the event drew nearly 250,000 attendees and forever changed the way Chicago celebrates the Fourth of July.

Due to the overwhelming response from the people of Chicago, the event was moved the next year to Grant Park, considered the city's "front yard." The park's central location with convenient access via public transportation is easily identifiable to citizens and visitors alike. The park is also the center of the Grant Park cultural community which includes the Art Institute, Adler Planetarium, and Shedd Oceanarium, Field Museum, Cultural Center, as well as Michigan Avenue and State Street shopping.

For ten days, this free-admission festival infuses the city with a holiday spirit thanks to its impressive festive scene. Colorfully decorated tents surround the outside kitchens of more than 70 restaurants from all over Chicagoland. Exotic aromas permeate the air and no visitor leaves a food booth empty handed.

In fact, during Taste of Chicago 2007, festival goers consumed 127,360 ears of corn, 165,000 lbs of turkey legs, 293,600 slices of pizza - and more than 430,000 glasses of Bud, Bud Light and Bud Select supplied by CITY Beverage-Chicago (CBC).

"The Taste of Chicago is one of the city's signature events and the Midwest's largest food festival, drawing people from throughout the community and beyond," explained CBC General Manager Mike Flynn.

The Mayor's Office estimates that the 27th annual event drew 3.6 million people to downtown Chicago's Grant Park between June 29 and July 8, 2007. This staggering crowd sampled over 300 menu items from more than 70 restaurants. Ticket sales for 2007 surpassed all previous year's on-site sales.

In the spirit of the festival, CBC also distributed a "taste" of a more unique item - Bacardi's Mojito. The crowd embraced the new flavor, purchasing more than 48,000 12oz cans of the beverage.

While enjoying the culinary experiences, participants were also treated to free concerts from musical headliners, including John Mayer, Cheap Trick, Kenny Rogers, and The Black Crowes, performing to crowds from the Petrillo Music Shell, which affords seating for 5,000. A July 3rd fireworks extravaganza, with accompaniment from the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, awed more than one million spectators.

"Even with extensive previous experience to draw upon, coordinating efforts for this enormous event is always a challenge. CBC and the millions of festival attendees applaud Draught Quality Manager Joe Lombardo and his team for working day and night to ensure the event was a resounding success," said Flynn.

The 28th Annual Taste of Chicago will be held June 27 through July 6, 2008. The festival is put together for families and others who not only enjoy the food frenzy, but also enjoy the chance to see one or more of their favorite artists perform for free. Other highlights of the festival include the Family Village & Fun Time Stage, International Pavilion, and chef demonstration area.
About the Author
Soave Enterprises is a privately held, Detroit-based company with holdings in dozens of companies. Its substantial financial and managerial resources bring strength to these entities.
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