JOLIET – Some people have long memories when it comes to Taste of Joliet.
The Joliet Park District, which runs the event that ends at 7 p.m. Sunday, has marketed it as the 10th Taste of Joliet. But that’s in the modern era, so to speak.
Heidi Domark of Plainfield has a vivid memory of the earlier series of Taste of Joliet events that ran from the mid-1980s to 1996.
“My husband and I were dating, and we came here the very first time they had Taste of Joliet,” Domark said Friday as she sat with her daughter eating lunch during the noon hour.
“It’s nice,” Domark said. “It’s a nice place to try out different foods around town that you’ve heard of but haven’t tried.”
Leah Cooper of Joliet likes Taste of Joliet for the same reason, although she would like to see more local restaurants with booths at the event.
“I have never really come for the music,” she said.
But she has come for many years, including when the Taste was held downtown in the 1980s.
“Last year, I ran into a lot of people I hadn’t seen for years – people I grew up with,” Cooper said.
Just meeting people you haven’t seen for a while is one of the attractions of Taste, even though the music has become the center of attention. Since the Taste was revived in 2006, the park district has made it a point to pursue nationally known acts, such as Big & Rich, the headliner for the Taste’s country music day Saturday.
Lonnie Wren of Shorewood said he typically comes every year but not for the music. That was changing this year because of Big & Rich, he said.
“We’re going to come back for Big & Rich,” Wren, a country music fan, said Friday. He only lives minutes away from Joliet Memorial Stadium, and, “It’s really nice to have something like that local.”
A dozen acts were scheduled to perform on the Taste stage throughout the weekend.
The Sunday line-up is headlined by Plain White T’s at 5 p.m. preceded by Skinny Williams at 1:30 p.m. and Big Dog Mercer at 3 p.m.
Admission on Sunday is $10 at the gate, down from $15 on Friday and Saturday.
During the first three hours of Taste on Friday, there was no charge for admission. But not everyone was completely happy.
Shorty Dunnagan of Joliet said he came because he promised to bring his son to the carnival. But, raising his plastic cup while finishing a $5 lemon shake-up, Dunnagan said, “The prices are too high.”
Sue Wren of Shorewood noted that a couple of vendors were not ready to do business when Taste opened at noon Friday.
But Ted Zelinski was a Taste booster.
“This place is awesome,” Zelinski said, pointing to the 27 food booths that lined the track at Memorial Stadium and complimenting the park district staff on keeping the grounds clean.
“We try to come every year,” Zelinski said. “It’s something to do. It’s really great to have something like this that brings people in.”