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City Extends Deadline For Taste Of Chicago, As Fewer Restaurants Apply

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(credit: Steve Hardy/CBS Local)

(credit: Steve Hardy/CBS Local)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The city has extended the deadline for restaurants to apply for spots at the new, scaled-down Taste of Chicago – in hopes of drawing more interest.

As WBBM Newsrasdio’s Steve Miller reports, a spokeswoman says so far, only 44 restaurants have applied – as opposed to 64 in 2010.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports

But Cindy Gatziolis, spokeswoman for the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, says any media interpretation of that as lackluster interest in the shorter Taste of Chicago is premature.

“A number of the folks from previous years have not gotten their paperwork in, and as we’re reaching them, they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah,’” Gatziolis said, “and that’s how it happens every year.”

It is too soon to make any conclusions about what this year’s Taste will actually look like.

“We don’t know what the final layout will look like. We don’t know what the final number of restaurants will be. We don’t know what restaurants will participate in Taste,” Gatziolis said. “I think once we have all that firmed up, we’ll get out there and tell people what the real story is.”

The city is drastically cutting back the Taste of Chicago this year. The festival will be reduced from 10 days to five, and will also be moved from the time around the July 4 holiday to mid-July.

For many years, the Taste of Chicago boasted big-name musical acts, as well as restaurants. But it has lost some $7 million in the past three years.

Last year, attendance for the Taste was down 2.35 million compared with two years earlier. There were shorter hours and no big-name musical acts.

The onetime climax of the Taste, the July 3 Fireworks Extravaganza, was eliminated in 2010 in an effort to save money, and after a gun fight broke out as the crowd left the show two years before that. One man was killed in the 2008 incident.

The Chicago Park District handled the Taste of Chicago for the first and only time last year, amid calls to privatize the festival. But this year, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events has taken over again.

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