Taste of Chicago Returns to Grant Park After Pandemic Hiatus

NBC Universal, Inc.

One of the nation's most popular food festivals, the Taste of Chicago, returned Friday after a two-year hiatus.

People from all over stopped by Grant Park to check out the delicious food, good music, as well as fun games and activities.

“Great that we’re back out here doing it,” said Carlander Franklin, who visited from Mississippi. “I love the Taste of Chicago. I love the food scene in Chicago. I wish it was bigger, but I understand that you downsize because of the pandemic and everything like that.”

Franklin went to the food festival with his brother.

“It’s really really nice post pandemic,” said Aaron Franklin. “It’s really nice to get out, move around, all the festivals are back.”

This year, the festival features more than 30 vendors, which offer numerous types of food - from BBQ wings to shrimp.

“This is our first year with the food truck," said Aisha Murff, the owner of Haire's Gulf Shrimp. "We have been in 2015, and it’s enjoyable. I’m glad we’re coming back after the pandemic."

Murff told NBC 5 she took over the family business after her husband passed from COVID-19 last year. Her family’s business has been a staple on Chicago’s South Side for 20 years.

“The people were waiting to come back to Chicago and other cities,” she said. “We came back strong, and we’re also Chance the Rapper’s favorite shrimp. He came by with his daughter and got some.”

The city is expecting tens of thousands of people to attend the three-day festival. Following the Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park, multiple attendees told NBC 5 they're extra vigilant.

“Actually, earlier we felt insecure, but when we saw all the police around here, everything was secured,” said Brenda Manterola, a visitor from Texas. “So we feel very secure with everything here.”

On Friday, long lines were visible at multiple entrances as people waited at security checkpoints.

“You know they check your bags, they make sure no one is going through without being checked,” said Claudia Meilan, a visitor from Florida. “So I feel they’re doing whatever they can to make sure everybody is safe.”

The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Sunday.

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