Smaller, Fewer Festivals a Possibility: City

Budget in the red may have fest-lovers seeing blue

Several of Chicago's lakefront music festivals could be consolidated or disappear altogether if private organizations don't come forward to subsidize and manage them.

That was the message Wednesday from Special Events Director Megan McDonald to aldermen at a City Council budget hearing.

“We can only do what we have the funding to do and what we’re able to raise money to accomplish,” she said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.  "That might mean moving Country Music Fest back into Taste. It might mean we merge some of our smaller music festivals and do more of a celebratory single festival that addresses all those different genres of music."

Mayor Richard Daley two months ago said he wanted to entertain private company bids to plan and run several of the festivals, including the taste, to help fill the city's $655 million budget hole.

The city's biggest summer events -- the Taste of Chicago, Jazz Fest and Blues Fest -- would likely exist as they have in the past, McDonald said, but if push came to shove, others might look very different.

"If we get to March, and suddenly we're trying to organize a festival that's scheduled in May, we may have to look at changing some things," she said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Those events that could see the biggest changes include the Viva Chicago Latin Music Festival, Celtic Fest, the County Music Festival and Gospel Fest.

Venetian Night, the lakefront boat parade and fireworks show launched under Mayor Richard J. Daley, was scrapped this year after a corporate sponsor failed to step in, as Red Bull did in 2009.

Other cost-cutting moves this year included changing the city's Independence Day fireworks display and shaving days off other festivals.


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