The number of food vendors increased by six this year and new vendors include: Alhambra Palace, Banana Leaf Restaurant, Beggars Pizza, Chicago Sweet Connection Bakery, The Fudge Pot, Lao Sze Chuan, Loving Hut, Parrot Cage Restaurant, Ryba's Fudge Shops, Smoke Daddy, Starfruit Café, and Texas de Brazil.
Each of the 59 vendors will serve six items, two of which are special "Taste Of" portions priced at $2 or less. The "Taste Of" portion gives attendees the opportunity to sample a wide variety of items.
Patrons should keep their eyes peeled for the Humana Healthier Choices green apple icon that designates healthy options on the menu boards. There's also the opportunity to run those calories away at the Humana Race to Taste, Sunday, June 26. Visit www.chicagoracetotaste.us for more info.In addition to culinary offerings from 59 Chicago-area restaurants, The Taste of Chicago in Grant Park will offer admission free chef demos at the Dominick's Cooking Corner. Seven daily demos are offered by such personalities as Emmy Award-winner Giada De Laurentiis, plus The Hearty Boys, Chef Tony Priolo, Chef Keli Fayard, Jimmy Bannos, and Jimmy Bannos, Jr.
Free music will be offered daily. This year, four of the City's annual lakefront music festivals - Viva! Chicago Latin Music Festival, the Chicago Country Music Festival, Celtic Fest Chicago and the Chicago Gospel Music Festival - will be incorporated into the Taste of Chicago, rather than be planned as stand-alone events.
The Petrillo Music Shell will feature such renowned acts as:
- Friday, June 24, Los Horoscopos de Durango as part of Viva! Chicago Latin Music Day sponsored in part by Univision Radio.
- Sunday, June 26 is Gospel Music Day sponsored in part by Inspiration 1390AM and featuring Donald Lawrence & Company.
- Monday, June 27 is Broadway in Chicago presented by United Airlines.
- Tuesday, June 28, The Lemonheads headline and Material re-Issue, formerly Material Issue, opens for The Lemonheads.
- Wednesday, June 29 Natalie MacMaster headlines Celtic Music Day. Liz Carroll, John Doyle and John Williams open.
- Natalie Cole performs Thursday, June 30 in a concert is presented by V103.
- Friday, July 1, Loretta Lynn headlines Country Music Day sponsored in part by US99.5. Court Yard Hounds, featuring the two sisters from Dixie Chicks, open.
- Saturday, July 2, The Jayhawks headline in a concert sponsored in part by 93XRT. Everest opens for The Jayhawks.
- Sunday, July 3 Grayson Chance performs the concert presented by Radio Disney AM 1300 Chicago. Shane Harper opens.
In addition to concerts at Petrillo Music Shell, Taste of Chicago 2011 will showcase an eclectic mix of the local music scene at the Illinois Lottery Taste Stage each day of the festival.
Enjoy fun for the whole family with hands-on activities including arts and crafts with area museums, family games, make and takes, face painting, green activities for kids - even a convenient baby changing area with free diapers from Dominick's.
See Chicago's very own Midnight Circus that brings its international cast of characters to Taste of Chicago for a brand new production, "Circo Urbano." Enjoy the high-flying, family friendly celebration of all things Chicago and all things Taste. Gravity defying acrobats and over the top theatrics come together in Grant Park for a sensational summer celebration that has it all. Daily shows at noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Admission to Midnight Circus is $2 in Taste tickets.
The Playground: Chicago Park District Fun!
Visit The Playground for daily activities and performances including fitness, sports, tumbling and dance. Art, culture, and nature will be explored. Experience fun backyard games, obstacle courses, scavenger hunts and the imagination playground.
Target's Giant Sandbox
Check out Target's larger-than-life turtle sandbox for tons of activities for kids and parents. Swing by the Taste of Chicago playground at Balbo and Columbus to join in the fun.
Visit The Playground on Wednesday, June 29 from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. for Move at The Taste. Brought to families by the Mayor's Fitness Council. Balance calories in and out with high energy fitness classes such as kickboxing, Latin dance and beach boot camp. Health assessments, nutrition education, and fitness challenges will be offered for all ages and abilities. There will also be games, giveaways and more.
General Taste of Chicago 2011 Information
Hours at the Taste of Chicago are 11 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. from June 24-July 2 and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on July 3.
Admission to Taste of Chicago is free.
Food and beverage tickets are sold in strips of 12 for $8 (includes $2 charge for Taste amenities). Purchase food and beverage tickets in advance for only $6 per strip from June 16-23 when you show your Fresh Values Card at Dominick's.
Tickets are $8 per strip from June 24-July 3 while supplies last at Dominick's.
Taste aims to enhance the customer experience this year with more dining pavilions and seating throughout the entire event. New Taste parking lots are available for a special discounted rate. Take the free McDonald's Family Trolley from the Taste lots to the event. See www.tasteofchicago.us for more details, lot locations and maps.
For more information, visit www.tasteofchicago.us or call 312-742-4387.
HOT AIR BALLOON FAST FACTS
-- 168 feet tall
-- As tall as the Statue of Liberty (the balloon dwarfs anything parked near it)
-- Takes approximately one hour to inflate; once deflated, the balloon fits into a traveling case that fits inside a van
-- The balloon is on a 55-city tour of festivals nationwide; this is the second year for the tour.
-- Once the occupants are in the basket (basket holds three people, including pilot), the balloon can become airborne immediately.
-- Tethered rides take guests up about 75 feet
-- When the balloon is doing a free flight over a city, Gary's wife follows in a van on the road below; she must predict where the balloon will land.