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Sole Bid for Privatizing Taste of Chicago Seeks to Charge Fees

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 4, 2011 3:18PM

The city, after only making a modest profit from last year's Taste of Chicago, received one bid from a private contractor to take over organizing the annual event. And that bidder, if they get their way, is looking to charge a $20 admission fee for folks to have the privilege to gnaw on giant turkey legs.

Celebrate Chicago LLC, a joint venture of the Illinois Restaurant Association, Jam Productions and AEG Live, is looking at an admission fee and anywhere from $25 to $65 charge for a music stage that will draw headline acts as a way of boosting talent and improving attendance, similar to Summerfest in Milwaukee. Regarding the proposed $20 admission, $10 would be rebated in the form of food tickets. Folks attending Taste for the concerts would have the proposed Taste admission fee waived.

The admission fee would apply during weekends, holidays and after 4 p.m. on weekdays. Children under 10 would continue to get in free, according to the Sun-Times. Celebrate Chicago's bid also proposes admission fees to Blues and Jazz Fests, and pre-sale general admission tickets at a bargain rate of $8.

Although the city asked in its questionnaires to bidders if they would be amenable to hosting a Taste of Chicago with no admission fees, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Lois Weisberg in September that a free, privatized taste would be "impossible."