Mayor Richard Daley threw down the gauntlet Thursday when asked about the possibility of charging a $20 admission fee for the Taste of Chicago.
Daley said he opposes the lone bid to privatize the event and charge the admission fee, along with up to $65 to see concerts.
"It's a food festival. You go down there for 12 days for food and beverages, that's what it was for. It's not the music festival. That's unacceptable," Daley said.
The mayor also dismissed comparisons to Milwaukee's Summerfest, which charges an admission fee but attracts bigger-name talent.
"We're not Milwaukee. Milwaukee has a venue that they charge people for festivals, but Taste of Chicago will always be free," Daley said. "We're not into music, we're not into anything else ... The cost kept going up, we're going to get it back down and do the Taste of Chicago for food."
The proposed fee for the festival would be in effect on the weekends, holidays and after 4 p.m. during the week, with free admission for children under 10. Ten dollars of the admission fee would go toward food and beverages.
This year's Taste of Chicago is slated to run from June 25 to July 4.