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City To Suburban Vendors: Stay Away From Taste of Chicago

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Apr 16, 2010 4:20PM

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The city is preparing for the 30th Anniversary of Taste of Chicago by banning suburban restaurants from participating this year, a move the Mayor's Office of Special Events says helps in "returning (the festival) to its roots." Special Events Director Megan McDonald told the Sun-Times that the suburban vendors were given a three-year grace period starting in 2007 to remain a part of the festival if they could secure at least one location for their business within city limits. McDonald also said that the decision was made to bring the focus of the festival back to promoting restaurants within the city limits.

The news didn't sit well with at least one former Taste participant. Kathleen Gits, owner of Aunt Diana's Old Fashioned Fudge in Riverside, told the Sun-Times,

"I'm not sure what it's gonna gain for Chicago. People go to the fest to have an outing with their families and get some food. They're not really worried about what your address is."

Gits also noted that a significant amount of visitors to Taste of Chicago come from the suburbs.

It could be easy to cite this as just another example of the impulse, cowtown decision making that often permeates city government. But then we remember that those five suburban vendors only made up eight percent of last year's total vendor list. Also, while there are a number of Taste attendees making the trek from the suburbs, they are coming to sample what Chicago's restaurants have to offer. Looking at the underwhelming list of this year's participating restaurants, which seems to complement the musical acts for this year's Taste perfectly in a late 80s-early 90s time warp, those suburban visitors should feel right at home. That is, if they even want to bother with the hassle of coming to Chicago via reduced public transportation service; spend a week's mortgage on parking should they drive in; not have a fireworks display on July 3; and run the risk of getting caught up in random violence.