Taste of Chicago ends

July 5, 2009 (CHICAGO) Portions are doubled or tripled in an effort to minimize waste, but most of the leftovers actually go to the needy. For the last several years, the restaurant association has partnered up with the Greater Chicago Food Depository to make that happen.

Promptly at 6:00 this evening, vendors began to tear down the booths. During the last 10 days they played host to 3.35 million people. The most popular item served was, without a doubt, the turkey leg. 140,000 pounds of them were served up throughout the festival.

"I think it's wonderful. People are friendly, the food is excellent. It seems more crowded," Tastegoer PeRita Ferguson said.

And crowded it was, even after a couple of rainy days, including July 4th. But vendors we spoke to say their sales were as good as ever. Now, much of that leftover food is on its way to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

"We're going to try and get some 3,500 lbs of food that will feed about 2500 families. And this comes at a time when we really have seen an increase in need," Bob Dolgan, of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, said.

Another popular feature of this year's Taste was the new open layout that made it easier for people to get around. It meant there were a few less food options out there, but no one seemed to mind.

"I like it. I wish it was even more open, then it wouldn't be so congested, definitely an improvement," Anthony Burton said.

"I love it. It's really nice. There is not an awful lot of booths so you can get to everything. It seems well organized," Barbara Correa said.

As for security issues, no major incidents were reported this year. Enclosing the Taste and giving it four distinct entrances seems to have worked well. Most of the 80 arrests made inside were for minor issues such as disorderly conduct.

"People feel more safe. There was more police. They did a really good job, the police," La Justicia food vendor Julio Martinez said.

In the end of taste, in addition to the turkey legs, there were also 240,000 pizza slices consumed, 128,000 pounds of jerk chicken, 112,000 slices of cheesecake and 45,000 scoops of Italian ice.

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