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Mayor Daley: Taste Of Chicago 'Will Always Be Free'

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One of Mayor Daley's legacies, for better or for worse, will surely be his push to privatize city assets. Aside from parking meters, water systems and airports, Daley has also encouraged the privatization of the Taste of Chicago, the massive summer food festival in Grant Park.

The city took applications for months from companies looking to take the festival over, along with six of its smaller lakefront cousins. But it only got one such application, and Daley apparently doesn't like what he sees.

The reason: a $20 admission fee, a centerpiece of the proposal by the Celebrate Chicago, LLC conglomerate.

"That's unacceptable," he said of the proposed admissions fee. And he specifically took issue with the unfavorable comparisons to Milwaukee's Summerfest, which attracts big-name musicians as well as food vendors, and charges a door fee and fees for individual concerts.

"This is not the Taste of Milwaukee. This is the Taste of Chicago. It's only a food festival," he said, according to the Sun-Times. "You go down there for 12 days for food and beverages. That's what it was for. It's not a music festival."

The Tribune reported more of Daley's comments, leading off with a typical Daley mis-speak (we'll miss those):

"It's called Taste of Food. We're not in it for music, we're not in it for anything else," Daley said at a news conference to announce expanded after school programs. "We get into tangents, and the cost is going up. We're going to get it back down, and do the Taste of Chicago for food, and that's all."

"The committee will look at (the bid) and revise it," he said. "But we're not Milwaukee."

Instead of the "tangents" of attracting big-name headliners, Daley proposed that the city bring in local acts, and dedicate most of the resources to the food vendors. That would cut costs without having to slap on a door charge, the mayor argued.