Accessibility at the Taste Good But Could Use More Work


Many cite the Taste of Chicago as the biggest food festival in the world, with many kinds of  delicious food all in one place. This event took place July 10th through the 14th at Grant Park in Chicago. With many kinds of food came many kinds of people all with different levels of ability attending the five-day event. For Zhen Heinemann, director of Visitors Experiences at the Taste of Chicago, it’s important to have accessibility be a main focus for the festival. 

“For the Taste of Chicago, accessibility to us looks like working our hardest to make the event as inclusive and inviting to all of our guests of any ability and to make sure they all feel invited, welcome, and that they’re excited to participate in the event,” Heinemann said. “So specifically at the Taste of Chicago, that means making sure that our food vendor booths have accessible high countertops, that there are ramps to get into any of the activity areas that are great for people that use mobility devices.” 

Other forms of accessibility at the Taste included large-print and braille brochures at the Concert and Oasis Ticket booths, wheelchair accessible entrances, American Sign Language interpreters as well as accessible and companion seating at the Pertillo Music Shell, accessible restrooms and more. 

Some people with disabilities who attended the Taste believe that while these services are a good start more can be done. Patti DeArmond who traveled to the Taste with her family to attend the festival said while ramps in activity areas were good, more ramps were needed throughout the festival. 

 “[I would say] just to make sure there are lots of ramps you can go up and down in various places along the blocks when they close the streets. So you don't have to go, like, to the very end of the block to get off [the street]. I had to get off earlier and actually lift my chair down so I could get off of the curb. So that would just be helpful.” said Patti DeArmond, who traveled from Joplin, Missouri to attend the Taste. 

Lakeview resident Hill Burgess who hasn’t attended the Taste in several years had his own ideas on the accessibility of the Taste. For him, lack of ramps in key areas also seemed to be an issue. “In terms of accessibility, it's limited because of the curbs on Columbus drive. So I was way up there but had to come way down here for a ramp over the curb.” 

“Burgess went on to say: “[It’s] a no brainer. Because certain people shouldn't be cut out of things just because it's hard for them to get there. Chicago is better than most cities. It’s an example but not the example.”

See what accessibility at the Taste looked like in the pictures of above and read more about the accessibility services that were offered here