CHICAGO (AP) — Two fixtures of summer in Chicago may have become the latest victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, city officials said Thursday.
There are no funds allocated in Chicago’s 2021 budget for the annual Taste of Chicago food festival and the Air and Water Show. Special Events Commissioner Mark Kelly told aldermen during a budget hearing the two events haven’t been canceled, but the approximately $9 million it takes to run them isn’t in his department’s spending plan.
Both the Taste, which takes place in July, and the mid-August Air Show, were canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Special Events spokesman Jamey Lundblad says the city plans to go ahead with house and gospel music, blues and jazz festivals next year.
The special events budget is funded through hotel taxes and other tourist-driven sources. With the pandemic hurting tourism, only a little more than half the $40 million the department was counting on for 2020 has come in, Kelly said, adding the department’s 2021 budget will total about $25 million.
Events such as the Taste usually are profitable for the city during normal years because of hotel rentals by visitors to the city and their spending at restaurants and other businesses, Kelly said.