News came yesterday that the one and only bid to run the Taste of Chicago came with a recommendation to charge a $20 entrance fee. Many people scoffed at the former free festival suddenly charging such a steep ticket price. But an incredibly well reasoned article by Phil Vettel clues us into the fact that we’ve already been paying a small fee since 1987 thanks to an "amenities fee" charged to every food ticket. Plus, the proposed $20 fee would also include $10 in food tickets, meaning it would really only cost $10 to enter. Still, Vettel thinks the entrance fee is a mistake.
His argument is that the free festival attracted people from all over the city:
To me, the greatest thing about Taste of Chicago has been its low threshold of accessibility. Families of four, teenagers without much money, people from the less-affluent parts of town — anyone could hop an "L" train or a CTA bus to Grant Park and enjoy a slice of pizza and a lakefront breeze.
With the fee up, the "egalitarian nature might be permanently, irretrievably transformed." Vettel also thinks that ticket prices would lead to higher expectations for the food, but that better food at the festival is “debatable.” He predicts that there won't be any "wholesale changes in the food lineup.” While the fee seems inevitable, several alderman want to hold a meeting to discuss the issue.
Food wouldn't necessarily be better, but it would cost you [Chicago Tribune]