The Taste’s Biggest Headliner for 2011: The Food

February 12, 2011

Why do you go to the Taste of Chicago; for the music or for the food?

If it’s for the latter, you’re going to like the changes to this year’s festival.

Come to think of it, if it’s for the music, you might like the changes too.

After losing $7 million over the last three years, the Taste needed a change. The city considered privatizing its biggest summer festival and even charging an admission fee.

But that’s not going to happen. On Thursday, it was announced that the Chicago Park District was taking over the Taste.

And that means some drastic changes.

The first Taste of Chicago was a celebration of food that drew more than 250,000 visitors on July 4, 1980 to its one-day affair, which was organized on a $150,000 budget.

Today, the Taste is a 10-day event that attracts about six million people and features big musical performers.

But the city has allotted $2 million less in its budget for the 2011 Taste, which means a bigger focus on the food and no more big stars.

Oh, there will still be music. And lots of it.

Instead of big-name headliners, however, there will be smaller, local performers delighting the crowds.

There will also be movie nights, and symphony, theater and circus performances.

But, there will be other music as well: Joining this year’s festivities will be four other Chicago events that have also been losing money:

*The Chicago Country Music Festival

*Viva Chicago

*Celtic Fest Chicago

*The Chicago Gospel Music Festival

All these annual music festivals will now become a part of the Taste and will each get a night to celebrate.

“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.”

The two remaining stand-alone music festivals in Grant Park will now be the Chicago Blues Fest, set for June 10-12, and Jazz Fest, scheduled for September 2-4.

The 2011 Taste of Chicago will run from Friday, June 24 through Sunday, July 3. And all your money you spend can go toward the cost of food.

“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.”

Some of the Taste’s past performers. How many have you seen? Who have I missed?

*Carlos Santana


Rob Thomas

Rob Thomas performed at the Taste last year. Don't expect anyone of his magnitude this year.

*Joss Stone

*Robert Palmer

*Steve Miller Band

*Bonnie Raitt

*John Mayer

*The Counting Crows

*The Wallflowers

*Barenaked Ladies

*Buddy Guy

*Stevie Wonder

*Cheap Trick

*Umphrey’s McGee

*Macy Gray

*The Black Crowes

*Dennis DeYoung

*Kenny Rogers

*Chaka Khan

*LL Cool J

About The Author

Read All Stories By Tracey



Waste of Chicago… There are plenty of venues in the Chicago metro area to see “local” talent in the wild without driving or commuting to Grant Park.

The Taste of Chicago’s focus on a giant block party atmosphere featuring local talent is a mistake unless they also plan on featuring more of the smaller mom pop restaurants and vendors instead of the big name and deep wallet restaurants.

No big name bands and acts means no point for many to travel to Chicago.

A better bet is to save your money and patronage for local and suburban fests and of course there is always Milwaukee’s Summer fest to look forward to in a few weeks.

Thanks again Chicago Park District, it wasn’t bad enough you ruined Soldier Fields Turf.. ?

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