Taste Of Chicago Attendance Hit 1.4 Million This Year

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Jul 14, 2015 3:40PM

With 1.4 million attendees, this year's Taste of Chicago handily beat out last year's annual homage to Chicago's food scene in attendance, when one day of the five-day festival was rained out completely. But the numbers are still trending down as the city continues to host a shorter festival.

Taste of Chicago formerly ran for ten days over two weekends in Chicago's Grant Park, closing roads and drawing over 2 million visitors. But the expenses of running the fest did not justify its apparently sluggish attendance, so in 2012 Mayor Rahm Emanuel shortened the festival to a five-day affair that could be run over the course of a single weekend.

That change made the fest profitable in 2013 for the first time in years, according to City Hall. But the truncated Taste hit some snags in 2014, when inclement weather, including heavy rain and standing water, spurred fest leaders to cancel the Saturday events. The 2014 attendance tally came in at about 1.1 million, and ultimately cost the city $169,404, according to the Tribune.

This year Taste of Chicago's concert headliners were Weezer, Erykah Badu, The Chieftains, Spoon and Maze with Frankie Beverly. As with last year, the city charged $50 for "premium" concert seats in an attempt to recoup some of the costs of operating the fest. But city officials have not yet determined whether this year's fest was profitable, according to the Tribune.

But Taste of Chicago officials have tallied up some of the most popular food items sold by various restaurant vendors at the fest to give us a by-the-numbers look at how many small plates and snacks 1.3 million people can eat in a long weekend:

Beat Kitchen Empanadas: 17,500 empanadas

Beavers Coffee + Donuts Mini Donuts: 31,155 mini donuts

Billy Goat Tavern Cheeseborgers: 15,000 Cheeseborgers

BJ’s Market and Bakery Mustard-Fried Catfish: 18,000 servings

Carbon Live Fire Tacos: 71,000 tacos

Churro Factory Churros: 15,000 churros

Connie’s Pizza Deep Dish Cheese Slice: 16,802 slices

Deep Dish Sausage Slice: 16,462 slices

Eli’s Cheesecake Co. Cheesecake: 36,837 slices of cheesecake

DNAinfo has a longer tally of even more local restaurants that dolled out thousands of dishes this weekend.