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Taste Of Chicago Pushed Back To September As City Makes Way For NASCAR Race In Grant Park

The Taste of Chicago will remain in Grant Park, but it has been delayed until September as the NASCAR race takes over the park.

The City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events hosts a Pop-Up Taste Of Englewood, neighborhood food festival in Chicago’s West Englewood community, featuring live entertainment, DJ's, dancing, arts and crafts and vendors selling a variety of food; July, 2021.
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DOWNTOWN — The Taste of Chicago will happen this year — but fans will have to wait until September for the main event.

The city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events announced Monday the Taste of Chicago will return to Grant Park Sept. 8-10 — months after its usual July date.

The announcement comes after furor last week when Block Club revealed the city hadn’t listed the Taste in its summer plans for Grant Park as it gives more time to the NASCAR race and Lollapalooza. Officials suggested the food event could still happen — though it’d be moved to Polk Bros Park near Navy Pier, leading to criticism.

Instead, the fest will remain in Grant Park, but it’ll be held in September, according to Monday’s announcement There will also be three Taste pop-ups during the summer: June 24 in Humboldt Park, July 15 in Pullman Park and Aug. 5 in Marquette Park.

“Moving this iconic event to the tail end of summer will prolong our vibrant festival season and spur additional tourism and economic activity downtown,” according to the events department.

The event will still focus on showcasing food from local restaurants, and it will have concerts and activities for families.

The Taste kicked off in 1980 and, while often see as a Chicago tradition, it has been reimagined and moved several times throughout its history. It has been held in Grant Park for years, though it was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. In 2021, it was held as a series of pop-up events throughout the neighborhoods before staging a comeback in 2022.

This would have been the Taste’s second summer back at Grant Park during the pandemic. But private events have threatened that.

Records obtained by Block Club show Grant Park will be booked 84 days between May 18 and Aug. 13 for Sueños Music Festival, NASCAR and Lollapalooza, leaving just a handful of days not free of obligations to large, private events.

City officials tried to move the festival to Polk Bros Park, saying it could still be held July 1-2 — the same weekend as the NASCAR Race. Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) fought that last week, delaying a vote on the move at a Committee on Special Events, Cultural Affairs & Recreation meeting.

“This was a planning disaster,” Reilly told The Daily Line. “So to give a blank check to the administration for the special events for this year without these explanations, I think would be irresponsible. I think the next mayor should make this decision, not the lame duck.”

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