Chicago's Food Fest Ends On Downside

Attendance down 6% from last year

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Hmm. These tasted better last year.

    There weren't as many tasters in Grant Park this summer.  Perhaps a rainy Fourth of July played a role in keeping attendance down at the year's Taste of Chicago.

    Officials say more than 3.3 million people showed up for the 10-day festival, but that's down from 3.5 million last year.  That's about 6 percent fewer attendees in 2009.

    Before Sunday's sunny closing day, attendees who weren't scared off by weather were treated to not only delicious local fare, but a collection of great perfomances, including a hometown blues sensation Buddy Guy, The Waco Brothers, The Afrodisiacs, and The Counting Crows. 

    They are all great acts, but not quite the same caliber as previous years:  Sheryl Crowe and Erykah Badu in 2003, Melissa Etheridge in 2004, John Mayer in 2007, Chaka Khan and Stevie Wonder in 2008, to name a few.

    So was it the lineup? Not our call.

    Even organizers don't blame this year's downturn all on the weather. The sluggish economy likely played a role, as well.

    Police say an increased presence in Grant Park helped keep things relatively safe and orderly, with about 30 arrests reported in the course of the event. 

    Safe, orderly and slightly soggy. The show must go on.

    Send your Taste of Chicago pictures for our collection to iSee@nbcchicago.com



    What do 3.3 million people eat during a festival centered on food?  A lot.

    Here's some numbers, provided to us by the City of Chicago:

    Cheeseburgers
    53,000 servings

    Cheesecake
    111,960 slices

    Corn on the cob
    135,760 ears of corn

    Egg Rolls
    15,000 servings

    Empanadas
    30,000 pieces

    French Fries
    48,000 pounds

    Funnel Cake
    41,000 pounds

    Gator Sausage on a Stick
    10,000 servings

    Gelato
    12,500 servings

    Goat Meat
    10,000 gallons

    Gyros
    10,000 pounds

    Homemade Potato Chips
    31,000 pounds

    Hot Dogs
    37,350 servings

    Hushpuppies
    10,000 pounds

    Italian Ice
    45,000 scoops

    Jerk Chicken
    128,000 pounds

    Mustard Fried Catfish
    41,000 servings

    Pierogi
    75,000 pieces

    Pizza
    240,000 slices

    Popcornsicles
    15,000

    Pot Stickers
    200,000 pieces

    Prime Rib Quesadilla
    2000 pounds

    Ravioli
    189,000 pieces

    Ribs
    76,000 pounds

    Samosa
    20,000 pieces

    Sausages
    69,000 servings

    Steak
    44,000 servings

    Tacos
    49,600

    Turkey Legs
    140,000 pounds

    Watermelon Slices
    35,200 slices