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Emanuel Defends Saturday Taste Of Chicago Cancellation

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jul 16, 2014 2:00PM

Photo credit: S Demmer

Taste of Chicago attendance dropped to 1.1 million people this year, mostly on the heels of the city closing down the festival Saturday as heavy storms rolled through the area. Mayor Rahm Emanuel defended the decision to cancel Saturday's festivities for safety reasons and he was as bummed out as everyone else who wanted to see Jeff Tweedy perform.

Emanuel said public safety was the main reason for shutting down Taste Saturday, on the recommendation from the Office of Emergency Management and Communications and the Department of Police, Fire and Cultural Affairs. The decision rankled some vendors who look toward Taste as an annual revenue generator, but the threat of electrical problems powering the kiosks was too great to ignore.

Emanuel, as always, took a glass half-full approach to the decision.

“There were some people who talked about, three years, ago, shutting the Taste completely down. I rejected that. I said let’s re-engineer it. Let’s re-imagine it. We now have pop-up restaurants, specialty chefs, food trucks, music. Last year, Taste of Chicago for the first time made money and the city had about $100 million of economic impact and job creation.… We shut it for a day for safety. But for the days it was open, it was extremely successful for the businesses, for the families that participated and for the city of Chicago.”