One of the country’s most popular food festivals, the Taste of Chicago, returned on Friday after a two-year hiatus.
People from all over stopped by Grant Park to experience the delicious food, great music, and fun games and activities.
“Great that we’re back here doing it,” said Carlander Franklin, who came from Mississippi. “I love the taste of Chicago. I love the Chicago food scene. I wish it was bigger, but I get that you’re downsizing because of the pandemic and stuff like that.
Franklin went to the food festival with his brother.
“It’s been really, really nice post-pandemic,” Aaron Franklin said. “It’s really nice to go out, to move, all the festivals are back.”
This year, the festival features more than 30 vendors, who offer many types of food – from barbecue wings to shrimp.
“This is our first year with the food truck,” said Aisha Murff, owner of Haire’s Gulf Shrimp. “It was 2015, and it’s nice. I’m glad we’re coming back after the pandemic.”
Murff told NBC 5 that she took over the family business after her husband died of COVID-19 last year. His family’s business has been a fixture in Chicago’s South End for 20 years.
“People were waiting to come back to Chicago and other cities,” she said. “We’ve come back strong, and we’re also Chance the Rapper’s favorite shrimp. He came with his daughter and bought some.
The city expects tens of thousands of people to attend the three-day festival. After filming the 4th of July parade in Highland Park, several attendees told NBC 5 they were extremely vigilant.
“In fact, earlier we didn’t feel safe, but when we saw all the police here, everything was safe,” said Brenda Manterola, a visitor from Texas. “So we feel very safe with everything here.”
On Friday, long queues were visible at several entrances as people waited at security checkpoints.
“You know they check your bags, they make sure no one walks through unchecked,” said Claudia Meilan, a visitor from Florida. “So I think they’re doing everything they can to make sure everyone is safe.”
The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. until Sunday.