Chicago Fests Folded Into Taste

Chicago officials are folding several stand-alone music festivals into the city’s famous summer food festival for 2011.

Taste of Chicago will now feature local musical acts that would have played the Viva Chicago, Country Music, Gospel and Celtic Fests previously.

The move comes as the city attempts to curb millions in festival losses over the past few years.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley recently turned down a lone bid to privatize the festival from Celebrate Chicago LLC, a group composed of Jam Productions, AEG Live and the Illinois Restaurant Association. Celebrate Chicago proposed charging an admission fee to the event and securing top-name artists for concerts, but Daley was set on keeping the fest free.

Festival operations were instead handed to the city’s Park District, which implemented the plan to add in the fests, the Chicago Sun Times reported.

“We realize that many residents and visitors have come to enjoy all of our lakefront festivals,” Department of Cultural Affairs commissioner Dorothy Coyle told the paper. “But during tough economic times, we have to make decisions that enable us to maintain essential city services.

“This new plan will allow us to continue to produce these festivals, but without the additional expenses associated with maintaining them as stand-alone events.”

The park district will also pursue new sponsorships and “family oriented” entertainment for Taste, the Sun Times said. The festival runs June 24 through July 3.

The city will still host its Blues and Jazz fests as stand-alone events.