The Taste of Chicago is the world’s largest food festival and the largest festival in Chicago, held annually for 10 days in Chicago starting Friday before the 4th of July and ending the Sunday after. Every year, millions of visitors and tourists from around the world enjoy the variety of food prepared by Chicago’s most popular restaurants. Taste of Chicago features live music on multiple stages, including the Petrillo Music Shell, informational and family oriented pavilions, and nightly film performances.
Arnie Morton is credited with the idea of the Taste of Chicago from smaller similar event in New York in the late 1970s . He thought that Chicago could do much better and he got it right . The first Taste of Chicago was held on July 4, 1980 . The organizers expected around 100,000 people but more than 250,000 showed up . The next year, the Taste of Chicago was moved to Grant Park growing to a 10-day event with more food vendors, and musical performers, becoming the world’s largest food festival.
In 2005, the Taste attracted about 3.5 million people with over 70 food vendors. In order to purchase food and beverages, tourist must purchase ‘Taste Tickets.’ Beer and wine can also be purchased.The 2006 Taste of Chicago was the best 10-day event ever for attendance and sales in its history. A record total of 3.6 million people visited the festivities that year. 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 marred by a salmonella outbreak that affected over 700 people and required the hospitalization of 12.
The popularity of the Taste of Chicago has gotten other cities to spawn numerous offshoots and equivalents throughout the country , such as the Taste of Champaign, CityFest in Detroit, the Taste of the Danforth in Toronto, the Taste of Kalamazoo, Taste of Cincinnati, Taste of Addison, Taste in Dallas, Taste of Madison, Taste of Austin, the Taste of Peoria in Peori Illinois, and the Bite in Portland to name a few.
Every summer the city of Chicago has an incredible festival. Over 3 million people come over a two-week period . It is recommended that visitors use public transportation: the CTA, Metra or Pace, to get to the Taste of Chicago, as parking in the immediate area is extremely difficult to find and very expensive. Rides are also available such as a Ferris Wheel and the Mayor Daley Jump to Be Fit.
Popular local food staples at Taste 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. The city’s diverse variety of cuisines is well represented making the Taste of Chicago is a must-taste festival.