Storm closes Taste of Chicago leaving vendors, visitors frustrat - KMSP-TV

Storm closes Taste of Chicago leaving vendors, visitors frustrated

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Taste of Chicago was closed Saturday due to excessive rainfall, flooding on the festival grounds and the threat of more rain.

“Well you know it was kind of disappointing but still we have to be concerned about our employees and also the safety of the public as well,” said Charles Robinson, Owner of Robinson’s Barbecue.

Instead of greeting and serving his namesake barbecue at the Taste of Chicago, Robinson was at this restaurant's brick and mortar location in Oak Park after Saturday morning’s downpour shut down the outdoor food festival.

Robinson is just one of dozens of vendors who stood to make thousands of dollars today.

“I would say today would have probably been a $35,000-40,000 day for us but you know it didn't happen and I'm not going to worry about spilled milk. I hope we get some good milk tomorrow,” said Robinson.

We haven't given much thought to revenue predictions as safety is our number one concern. We had three really strong days for the Taste and we anticipate another really strong day tomorrow and of course we reconcile all of the revenue as well as the expenses after the event is done,” said Michelle Boone, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.

Last year the city said the Taste of Chicago’s five day festival generated a profit of $272,000, plus an estimated $106 million and more than $2 million in tax revenue for the city.

Despite the impact one day’s closure has, the city says that safety comes first.

Saturday morning’s downpour left the Taste of Chicago site flooded, inoperable and unsafe.

Robinson says he found out the city closed the Taste at 9:30am.

Hours later, “I want to cry. After the way the weather cleared up, I wish things could have been different,” said Robinson.

The Davis family found out the Taste was closed when they showed up from Toledo, Ohio.

“We knew there was going to be rain so on the way down I just prayed the whole time, God stop the rain and he did but it doesn't matter right now, not for the Taste, that ship has sailed,” said Dorinda Davis.

Despite the Taste’s cancellations, it was business as usual at other events across the city, including at the Windy City Smokeout.

Even so, Taste organizers say better to be safe than sorry and despite the loss in revenue, Charles Robinson agrees.

The Taste of Chicago is planning to open Sunday as scheduled. This is the second time the city has shut down the Taste in its 34 year history. In 1992 the Taste was cancelled due to storms.

 

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