Taste of Chicago moved to September amid backlash over NASCAR street race planned for same weekend

ByCate Cauguiran and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Tuesday, March 14, 2023
Taste of Chicago gets new date due to NASCAR
The Taste of Chicago 2023 will now be held on Sept. 8 to 10. The NASCAR street race takes place the first weekend in July.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Taste of Chicago is moving to September this year, the city announced Monday.

The Taste of Chicago will return to Grant Park but will now be held on Sept. 8 to 10, 2023, in addition to three neighborhood events throughout the summer, according to a summer festival and events calendar released by Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

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The iconic Chicago event historically takes place in early July. But this year, the NASCAR street race will be held in Grant Park on July 1-2, 2023. The announcement came amid backlash over the street racing event that created criticism over Grant Park and private events.

Charlie Robinson, with Oak Park's Robinson's No. 1 Ribs, has been a vendor of Taste of Chicago since it started in 1980.

"I'm thrilled that its going to be here in Grant Park, and that's the only way it should be," Robinson said. "I don't really think changing the date was going to be important because a lot of folks want to come out and be a part of Taste of Chicago, and they going to come regardless what date it's going to be."

However, vendors like Robinson weren't thrilled over the political back and forth over why the event had to be moved in the first place.

"I don't know how, what happened, why they decided to move the date, bring NASCAR in before Taste, and it was a major mistake. But, however it may be, we're going to make it work," Robinson said. "Grant Park is the home and place for Taste of Chicago."

After nearly four decades with the free, iconic summer event, Robinson said he too was puzzled, but grateful.

"It's very disappointing to bring NASCAR in for three years to lock up Grant Park for this event. I just think Taste should have had priority over any other event," Robinson said. "However it may be, as long as we can pull it off and get the job done, then God bless."

The city said Taste of Chicago will also host pop-up events in different city neighborhoods leading up to the larger downtown event.

Alderman Brendan Reilly, whose 42nd Ward includes Navy Pier and parts of Grant Park, had requested a delay in approving the city's summer events schedule last week.

"While I am disappointed the NASCAR event is forcing Taste of Chicago to move from July to September, it is a far superior option than moving the Event to space constrained and traffic challenged Polk Brother's Park at Navy Pier. I am glad the administration listened to reason and made the wise choice to keep the Taste of Chicago in Grant Park, where it belongs," Reilly's office said in a statement.

Full list of 2023 Spring/Summer special events:

  • Chicago City Markets (citywide including Daley Plaza on Thursdays, Maxwell Street on Sundays TBA): May - October
  • Taste of Chicago (Grant Park and neighborhoods): Taste neighborhood events to take place June 24 (Humboldt Park), July 15 (Pullman Park), and Aug. 5 (Marquette Park), culminating with the downtown Taste, Friday - Sunday, Sept. 8-10 (Grant Park)
  • Chicago House Music Festival and Conference (Humboldt Park Boathouse Lawn, festival portion presented in conjunction with neighborhood Taste pop-up): Saturday, June 24; House Conference portion to take place at Chicago Cultural Center, June 23
  • Chicago SummerDance (citywide including pop-ups and special events, Night Out in the Parks events, programs at the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park - and the SummerDance Celebration in Millennium Park): select dates July 15 - Sept. 10
  • Chicago Air and Water Show (North Avenue Beach and along the Lakefront): Saturday & Sunday, Aug. 19 & 20; practice runs on Friday, Aug. 18

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