Chicago's Food Fest Ends On Downside

Attendance down 6% from last year

By Peggy Cassidy
|  Tuesday, Jul 28, 2009  |  Updated 1:19 PM CDT
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Hmm. These tasted better last year.

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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.

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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:

53,000 servings

111,960 slices

Corn on the cob
135,760 ears of corn

Egg Rolls
15,000 servings

30,000 pieces

French Fries
48,000 pounds

Funnel Cake
41,000 pounds

Gator Sausage on a Stick
10,000 servings

12,500 servings

Goat Meat
10,000 gallons

10,000 pounds

Homemade Potato Chips
31,000 pounds

Hot Dogs
37,350 servings

10,000 pounds

Italian Ice
45,000 scoops

Jerk Chicken
128,000 pounds

Mustard Fried Catfish
41,000 servings

75,000 pieces

240,000 slices


Pot Stickers
200,000 pieces

Prime Rib Quesadilla
2000 pounds

189,000 pieces

76,000 pounds

20,000 pieces

69,000 servings

44,000 servings


Turkey Legs
140,000 pounds

Watermelon Slices
35,200 slices

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