Chicago's annual summer food and music festival will be cut in half in 2012, running only five days between July 11 and July 15, city officials announced Wednesday.
Shortening the festival, which traditionally begins in late June and drives huge traffic during the Fourth of July weekend, is largely a cost-saving measure, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events spokeswoman Mary May told NBC Chicago.
"It's also much more feasible for the restaurants in that they'll only have to commit to a shorter period of time," May said.
The city opted out of its usual July 3rd fireworks show in Grant Park this year and scaled down the Taste, which has consistently lost money for the past four years, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. This past summer's event drew 11 percent fewer visitors than 2010 and more than a quarter less than in 2006 and 2007. Participating restaurants took in only $4.9 million, 20 percent less than the previous year.
Cultural Affairs officials said that in addition to shortening the festival, they hope to continue shifting the event's focus back to local food and restaurants, and selling Chicago as a foodie destination, the Chicago Tribune reports. The festival has been used as a platform for big-name performers in the past, including Stevie Wonder and the Barenaked Ladies.
In their release of finalized dates for 2012's seasonal festivals, the city also announced the return of the Gospel Music Festival for its 27th year, which will last four days, according to NBC. The music festival was folded into the Taste of Chicago last year.