Northern Illinois Destinations: Taste of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

This was originally scheduled to be posted on Independence Day of 2015, only I was just getting the hang of writing posts and scheduling them for later, so I accidentally posted it on June 22.  I’ve triple-checked and made sure that my attempt to pre-schedule this post worked.  I’m typing this paragraph on July 10, 2015, but if all goes as planned, it should post on July 20, 2015.


I figured I would start the Northern Illinois Destinations posts with one of my family’s Fourth of July traditions, the Taste of Chicago Festival in Grant Park, Chicago.  I cannot remember specifically what year we started going to Taste of Chicago.  The festival started in 1980, so it certainly couldn’t have been any earlier than that.  We started bringing the man who eventually became my husband, and then, years later, my ex-husband, in 1989 or so, so it must have been earlier than that.  For the record, the Taste of Chicago is no longer held on the Fourth of July weekend.  The last Fourth of July Taste of Chicago apparently was in 2011.  In 2015, the Taste of Chicago will be held July 8 through 15.

My parents and I had a traditional pattern for doing the Taste.  We would walk the entire thing once to get the lay of the land, then we would buy our tickets and make another pass and buy our food.  We traditionally got ribs, chicken wings, Chicago style hot dogs (though I cannot digest onions so I would scrape mine off), turtle soup (from the now-defunct Binyon’s.  Frankly, the turtle was sort of optional — most people ate the turtle soup for the sherry), and chocolate-covered strawberries.  Whatever else we bought would vary based on what was available that year.

I went back with my now-ex a few times after we moved to Texas and my parents retired to Florida.  We didn’t have the specific routine that my folks and I did.  Then, after my ex and I split up, my son and I made a return visit in 2010.

The food is not the only reason to go to Taste of Chicago.  No, I’m not talking about beer, though if that’s your thing, have at it (I don’t drink, myself.  I come from a family of alcoholics and my distaste for the flavor of alcohol is not worth attempting to get over if that is the fate that would lie ahead of me).  I’m talking about two other things:  the music and the people-watching.  There is usually a big headliner act in the band shell at night.  One year the act was Chicago and I made my folks hang around the park for a few extra minutes just so that I could catch part of the concert.  There are also smaller stages that have musicians  throughout the day.

If you ever plan to attend Taste of Chicago, remember that it may be, as the saying goes, “cooler by the lake,” but it’s not necessarily that much cooler.  Plan for it to be about the same temperature downtown as it is wherever your hotel/host/home is and dress accordingly.  Some years the temperature was a balmy 80 degrees Fahrenheit or so.  Other years, it has been in the high 90s.

(originally posted on June 22, 2015)

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