First on NewsChannel 9: Taste of Syracuse cancelled for the second summer in a row due to pandemic

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Taste of Syracuse is cancelled for the second summer in a row, the event’s organizers have shared first with NewsChannel 9.

The annual food and music festival, which is typically held the first weekend in June in Clinton Square, is the unofficial start of festival season in Downtown Syracuse.

Carrie Wojtaszek, who organizes the event in her role of COO at Galaxy Media, says the decision comes after months of debate and many phone calls from people asking about its status.

“We don’t want to do a half-baked event,” Wojtaszek says in an exclusive interview with NewsChannel 9. “We don’t want to come out and say ‘we’re doing it just to do it.’ When we do the Taste, it needs to be the Taste. We want all of our restaurants. We don’t want just a few.”

It was no surprise when the event was cancelled in 2020, scheduled less than three months into the pandemic. At the time, event organizers at Galaxy Media committed to a 2021 return.

Wojtaszek says, “Last year at this time, we were like, ‘we’re coming back stronger than ever in 2021.’ No one knew that this pandemic would go on this long.”

“The idea of having an event with 200,000 people just doesn’t seem practical,” she says, citing state guidelines that limit outdoor events to 200 people and common sense safety assumptions.

Baseball stadiums and car racing tracks are just two types of venues that will begin welcoming fans this summer, but will require proof of vaccinations or negative results. Those kinds of requirements are almost impossible for a downtown-style event using city streets.

Without the Taste of Syracuse, Galaxy Media is still trying to help small businesses make money.

Instead of the one-weekend jam-packed festival, the same organizers will present Picnics at the Park.

Food trucks and smaller-scale music performances will be scheduled for 13 Thursday afternoons in June, July, and August.

People will be able to reserve space on the lawn for lunch between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. or take the food to go.

The final calendar of food trucks, restaurants and musicians will be publicized by Galaxy Media once it’s finalized. The vendors are asked to offer at least one menu item for $1 in Taste of Syracuse tradition.

Despite the hopeful success of Picnics at the Park, Wojtaszek says it will not replace the main event, which she looks forward to returning to Clinton Square next year.

“We are so excited for 2022,” she says.

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