Sunday a much brighter day for Taste of Chicago

Written By SUN-TIMES STAFF Posted: 07/13/2014, 08:50pm
Array The Taste of Chicago was closed Saturday because of severe weather, officials said. | Becky Schlikerman/Sun-Times

A day after heavy rain caused officials to cancel the Taste of Chicago, the festival in Grant Park reopened Sunday morning.

“It’s good to be out here,” said Julie Smith, 27, of Indianapolis. “We came yesterday right as they were turning people away.”

More than three inches of rain swept across parts of the Chicago area on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. The downpour flooded the grounds at Grant Park.

The festival, a Chicago summer mainstay since 1980, had never been canceled for an entire day.

Despite the cancellation of their musical acts on Saturday because of the foul weather, Jeff Tweedy and Lucinda Williams will still be paid from the Taste programming budget, which is funded by the city’s hotel and motel tax, according to city spokeswoman Mary May. She didn’t know how much each musician was paid.

“It’s my first time here, but been it’s been a gorgeous so far,” said Miami resident Kevin Collao, 21, as he munched on a corned beef sandwich.

South Bend resident John Gurley, 46, was standing in the shade, plotting strategy for the day with his fiancee, Barb Matthews. It was the couple’s first time at the festival.

“There’s a lot to choose from,” he said. “We’d love to see something like this back home.”

Sunday was the last day of the five-day event.

About noon Saturday, the city’s Office of Emergency Management made the announcement that the festival would be closed because of “excessive rainfall and flooding on the festival grounds.”

“This was not a decision that was made lightly,” said Michelle Boone, commissioner of the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, as she stood near large puddles of standing water on Saturday. “We love presenting the Taste of Chicago annually, but we cannot do that at the expense of any safety for visitors or residents.”

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