Taste of Chicago to remain free

Leon Casetta of Skokie, Ill., bites into a barbecued turkey leg from Great Godfrey Daniels restaurant booth at the 16th annual Taste of Chicago festival which opened in Chicago's Grant Park Friday June 28, 1996. The festival runs through July 7. (AP Photo/Michael S. Green)

February 3, 2011 6:20:11 AM PST
Admission to Chicago's famous summer food festival will remain free.

The administration of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley on Tuesday turned down the lone bid from a private venture to operate the Taste of Chicago. City Budget Director Eugene Munin said in a statement the entry fee was unacceptable.

A joint venture called Celebrate Chicago had proposed charging admission -- first $20 and more recently $10 -- to the popular lakefront event. The joint venture was a partnership of the Illinois Restaurant Association, Jam Productions and AEG Live.

Instead, the city will continue to run Taste of Chicago and other festivals despite $7 million in losses during the past three years. City officials have said the scale of the events could be cut back if a private operator couldn't be found.