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Article updated: 7/7/2013 8:18 AM

Annual Chicago food fest adds Pop-Up booths to menu


Added aromas, appetites and audios will abound at the 33rd annual Taste of Chicago.

Rev up those taste buds -- the food festival is taking over Grant Park from Wednesday through Sunday, July 10-14.

Taste of Chicago program director Mary Slowik said this is the second year of the festival's five-day, mid-July time slot, which worked well last summer because it wasn't as draining on the city's resources.

"We're expecting a really spectacular event this year," Slowik said.

The Taste will feature 35 restaurants, including four new vendors this year, along with 12 Pop-Up booths that will spice up the food selections.

The festival is teaming up with PBS station WTTW's "Check, Please!" to present the Pop-Ups again this year to add more diversity to the Taste's food selections. Pop-Up restaurants only stick around for a day or two, but new booths open each day.

All together, the Taste has added six new Pop-Up vendors this year.

"That's what keeps the event fresh and has people coming back," Slowik said.

Part of the popularity of the annual food extravaganza is the musical entertainment.

The festival's concerts, particularly those at the Petrillo Music Shell, will be "tremendous," Slowik said.

This year's lineup includes fun. at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 10; Robin Thicke at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 11; Robert Plant Presents The Sensational Space Shifters at 5:30 p.m. Friday, July 12; Grammy Award-winner Jill Scott at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, July 13; and Neon Trees at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 14.

While most seating in the venue is sold out, lawn seating is free and on a first-come first-served basis.

Thirty bands also will perform on the Bud Light Stage during the five-day festival.

One new addition to the Taste will be 13 food trucks surrounding the Petrillo Music Shell on the outskirts of Butler Field.

The festival invited every licensed food truck in Chicago in April. The festival will rotate in seven food trucks each evening.

"We saw the popularity of food trucks in general throughout the city and wanted to incorporate them," Slowik said.

The food trucks will accept the same Taste tickets as the regular vendors.

The trucks will open an hour before the evening concerts -- 4:30 p.m. from Wednesday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

Slowik said she hopes the trucks appeal to concert attendees who don't want to miss performances by going out to the regular Taste restaurants.

"It's a win-win because food trucks have a dedicated audience, and that audience has the ability to very easily get something to eat," Slowik said.

As with any experiment, Slowik is optimistic.

"We're hoping they offer something that's new to the event," Slowik said. "We're hoping it's a crowd-pleaser, successful and that (the food trucks) come back next year."

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