CHICAGO (WBBM) – This year’s Taste of Chicago is at its halfway point — and its manager is pleased.

Taste is selling “less” as “more,” and Manager Mary Slowik said Tuesday night that it appears to be working.

While fewer big-name rock acts has meant smaller crowds, Slowik said that has meant that visitors no longer have to be an All-Pro tackle to ram through the crowd.

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“This year, more than ever, we have seen people who don’t come down to Taste because they’re afraid of the crowds,” she said.

She said in recent years, the crowds at Taste prompted many to stop going or consider other entertainment.

And, she said, the fact that the crowds are more manageable has meant that parents of young children have brought the kids. She said, as a result, Taste’s “family-friendly” additions are paying off. She said every time she passes the massive sandbox in the Playground at the south end of Taste, at least 100 children are playing in it. She said the Playground and the Midnight Circus tent are proving extremely popular.

“The Family Village area, which has face-painting, teaches children how to play chess, all the different museums are out here, there’s a robotics seminar — it’s really wonderful,” she said.

The traditional Taste lunchtime crowd and the after-work music crowd still show up. She said it appears that many of the dozen new food vendors are proving popular. But Slowik won’t know which booths are most popular until the vendors exchange the tickets they have collected for cash, once Taste ends Sunday night.