July 6, 2009

Taste of Chicago attendance down 6 percent

A struggling economy and several days of rain put a damper on this year's Taste of Chicago festival, with attendance down 6 percent, officials said.

Some 3.35 million people attended this year's 10-day event at the city's Grant Park, which wrapped up Sunday, The Chicago Tribune reported.

Despite the drop-off, city officials were generally pleased with the turnout, the Mayor's Office of Special Events spokeswoman Cindy Gatziolis told the newspaper. She said roughly 1 million people came to the Taste's July 3 fireworks show, but rain on July 4 kept crowds lower than normal.

Attendance was also down at Summerfest in nearby Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Although official figures had yet to be released, vendors said they noticed fewer people and Summerfest organizers added more ways to get in for free or at reduced prices.

We want to make sure everybody has an opportunity to come to Summerfest and enjoy what we have in the city and enjoy what we built over the last 42 years regardless of the state of the economy, John Boler, the festival's vice president of sales and marketing, told the newspaper.