Taste of Chicago schedule, location for 2023 uncertain thanks to ‘planning disaster’ of potential NASCAR overlap, alderman says newstrendslive

Taste of Chicago and other city-sponsored events for 2023 were supposed to get easy approval by aldermen at a committee meeting Tuesday. Instead, a double-booking of two heavily-attended events in Grant Park has thrown a wrench into the proceedings.

Taste, established in 1980 and traditionally held in early July, welcomes an estimated 40,000 visitors to Grant Park for food and musical performances. The city had not announced a date for this year’s event, leading some to worry about its fate.

But a downtown alderman said Tuesday that the inaugural NASCAR Chicago Street Race — which will feature top NASCAR drivers weaving in and around Grant Park — is scheduled to begin July 2, which would overlap with the Taste schedule.

The 12-turn, 2.2-mile NASCAR racecourse will be held on closed-off streets lined with temporary fences, grandstands and hospitality suites. The race will necessitate a partial closure of DuSable Lake Shore Drive and bring an anticipated 100,000 visitors.

The scheduling conflict enraged downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd, who told reporters he found out from Navy Pier officials that the city had planned to move Taste to the pier’s Polk Park “without having any conversations with local aldermen.”

“As you know, the easiest, most convenient way to access the pier is Lake Shore Drive. Lake Shore Drive will be closed for NASCAR,” Reilly said, leaving the best routes to get to the pier via Illinois Street or Grand Avenue, which Reilly said would be a “traffic disaster.”

“This was a planning disaster,” he added.

He requested fellow committee members hold off on approving the slate of city sponsored events until there was a better plan for Taste. Fellow aldermen agreed, and the ordinance will be held in the Committee for Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Recreation — jokingly referred to as “the Happy Committee” by its chair, Ald. Nicholas Sposato, 38th.

Reilly suggested instead that the city move Taste of Chicago to another weekend, possibly in the fall.

Afternoon Briefing


Chicago Tribune editors’ top story picks, delivered to your inbox each afternoon.

“To try to do this all at once, that’s irresponsible,” Reilly said.

Madeline Long, spokesperson for the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, released a statement: “Taste of Chicago is a beloved summertime tradition that is indeed happening this year. We are finalizing details for 2023 and will be announcing dates and locations for DCASE’s signature summer events in the coming weeks.”

The city did not respond to questions about whether it had proposed moving Taste to Polk Park, any special plans for traffic or pedestrian flow, or questions about bookings for musical entertainment. Long said those questions would be addressed once Taste was formally announced. Similar questions to officials at Navy Pier were referred back to Long. A Chicago Park District spokesperson did not respond separately.

The situation has created confusion and anxiety among those trying to plan for the annual event.

“We’ve heard a lot of different things in the last couple days,” said Marc Schulman, president of Eli’s Cheesecake, which made its debut during the first Taste of Chicago in 1980 in front of Tribune Tower and has participated every year since. “Obviously, we’re anxious. … We love Taste, we love Taste in Grant Park, so we’ll have to wait and see.”

Taste of Chicago, a city summer tradition, gathers dozens of restaurants and food trucks from around the different neighborhoods every year for the past four decades for a weekend of food, beverages, live music, dancing, karaoke and kids’ activities.

In 2022, Taste of Chicago returned in full force — even expanding to the neighborhoods of Austin, Pullman and Little Village in addition to the main event in Grant Park — after two years of abbreviated and virtual offerings after the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.