CHICAGO — The city estimated 1.5 million people turned out for the Taste of Chicago, up from 1.2 million the year before, and it's potentially delicious news for a struggling event looking to make a comeback.
Festgoers devoured dishes by the thousands, including 30,000 Rainbow Cones (and cups), 75,000 slices of Eli's Cheesecake and 20,000 Billy Goat Tavern "cheezborgers," among other eats from Wednesday through Sunday.
“Anyone who visited this year’s Taste of Chicago enjoyed a family-friendly, welcoming event, and also saw firsthand why our culinary reputation is renowned,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a new release. “The festival featured many longtime favorites while also showcasing the latest chapter in our culinary history, the food trucks.”
The city tried to bring in hungry crowds with big-name headliners such as Robin Thicke, Jill Scott and fun., celebrity chefs, pop-up restaurants and food on wheels to help bolster the five-day event, which has lost money and attendance in recent years.
In 2011, the Taste lost about $1 million, and the city decided to tighten the belt for the next year's fest, which was cut from 10 days to five. The annual Grant Park fest was also moved from its traditional run during Independence Day to a week later.
Officials did not yet have estimates of how much money was made this year at the Taste, but tickets for all but one musical act sold out before the event.