Taste of Wheaton visitors found new twists and old favorites at the festival Saturday as they tried new carnival rides, listened to musical performers, made tie-dyed shirts and ate iced cupcakes or gluten-free corn dogs.
Held in Memorial Park and its bordering streets as well as on Hale and Liberty streets, the annual Taste of Wheaton gave residents like Marianna Johnson and daughter Ava Barton a way to spend a cloudy Saturday afternoon. Hopping off the "Sizzler," a spinning carnival ride set up on Liberty Street, 10-year-old Ava raved about the experience.
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"This ride is awesome," she said.
And so was the unexpected lunch the youngster with the gluten allergy celiac disease found from a line of vendors on Wheaton Avenue, her mother said.
"She got to have a gluten-free corn dog, which was awesome," Johnson said.
Others at the Taste tried iced cupcakes or stuck to classics like slices of pizza and fresh-squeezed lemonade.
Changing things up a bit, the Wheaton Park District, which hosts the Taste, offered all its activities under one tent in Memorial Park, featuring a new tie-dye station where kids could twist and wrap T-shirts, dip them in dye and seal them in a plastic bag to create colorful patterns. The DuPage County Historical Museum completed the tie-dye station with handouts about the history of the art, detailing its roots beyond American hippies in 6th-century Peru and 8th-century Japan and Indonesia.
Many Taste attendees made Saturday an active day, running the Cosley Zoo 5K or 10K Run for the Animals in the morning or biking to the festival, like 11-year-old Katie Ellingsen of Wheaton did with her parents.
Volunteers from Wheaton's Bicycle Advisory Committee offered a free bike valet service from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, guarding bicycles for more than 30 people by midafternoon, said advisory committee member Laurel Salvador. The bike valet service, new this year, was an effort to promote efforts to make Wheaton more bike-friendly, she said.
The Taste of Wheaton continues Sunday with a new block party from noon to 4 p.m. in Memorial Park offering entertainment, business booths and food vendors. The carnival on Liberty Street is open noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.