Taste of Orland Park begins despite coronavirus pandemic

ORLAND PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Papa Joe's Italian booth was busy setting up the tent and getting food ready for the Taste of Orland Park Friday.

Papa Joe's has had a booth at the event every year since it opened.

The streak will continue, despite the pandemic.

This is the 17th year for the food festival that features not only local restaurants, but lots of live music and entertainment.

Unlike nearly every other festival or large gathering in the country, Orland Park officials decided against canceling it.

Mayor Keith Pekau said, "It's easy to say 'cancel it,' but it's a lot more difficult to plan how are we gonna do this?"

They have painted squares on the grass for families to socially distance themselves.

The Taste traditionally holds more than 10,000 people, but this year they have expanded the grounds and plan to limit the crowd to about 20% of capacity or 2,000 people.

"It's gonna be different. Normally it's wall to wall people for the headliners. It's not gonna be like that," Pekau said.

Crews also placed hand sanitizer stations throughout out the grounds.

Officials said this has never been a money maker for the village, in fact they have traditionally lost money on the Taste. But for Mo's Chinese restaurant and others, it's a chance to get out of the restaurant and into the community.

The festival began at 5 p.m. Friday, and continues Saturday and Sunday.
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