Kimon Kemeridis entertains the crowd at the Koutouki booth at this year’s Taste of Edmonton.
Liane Faulder / Postmedia
It’s spacious, picturesque and popular. But that’s no guarantee Capital Plaza will host Taste of Edmonton again in 2020.As the tasty festival wound up Sunday, general manager Paul Lucas couldn’t say where Edmontonians will next experience the summer favourite, which just celebrated its 35th anniversary. The festival was slated to spend only two years overlooking the legislature, returning to Churchill Square next summer when on-site renovations were to be complete.But a construction obstacle at the corner of 99 Street and 102 Avenue will still be there next summer, said Lucas, making the site too small to accommodate Taste of Edmonton crowds, which average about 350,000 yearly. He has been negotiating with the city for extra space further north on 99 Street and on a section of 100 Street. But so far, no decision has been made.“In order for us to come back, we need to expand,” said Lucas of the festival, which has an annual budget of $4.5 million.Meanwhile, folks at Capital Plaza expressed their support for staying put. Shannon Lambkin, who has attended for 10 years, prefers Capital Plaza over Churchill Square.“There’s more room, it’s more comfortable — it’s more kid and senior friendly because there is more shade,” said Lambkin, who, along with two other diners, spent $200 on tickets to sample from 20 different booths.Lucas says research shows 60 per cent of people prefer Capital Plaza over Churchill Square. But the former comes at a “huge cost to the festival.”There are no public washrooms at Capital Plaza, so the festival has to spend $30,000 on portable toilets. Plus, stone tiles in the plaza need special treatment for washing, doubling cleaning costs. The city of Edmonton paid those extra costs for the festival, a non-profit organization, during the planned two-year residence at Capital Plaza. But Taste of Edmonton would be on the hook for those costs in future, should they not return to Churchill Square.
Marcus Pacheko, left, and Shelby Fodor, both 14, enjoy a day at Taste of Edmonton. Photo by Liane Faulder/Postmedia
Liane Faulder /
Attendees Sunday sampled some of the new features of Capital Plaza, including more seats and umbrellas, and the option to drink alcohol while walking around the grounds rather than being stuck in a fenced area.“It’s great not to be corralled, and you don’t have to guzzle because you can walk around,” said John Claassens, who enjoyed an alcoholic beverage near the music stage with his wife, Lynette.Not all new features at Taste of Edmonton were a hit. A new ticketing system by Crowdblink that saw participants buy food tickets on their phones for scanning at the booths crashed on Friday, the busiest day of the festival when 37,245 people were on site. Festival-goers were refunded unused tickets, but it was a hassle.“We’re talking to (Crowdblink) about why they didn’t have a back-up server,” said Lucas.This year’s attendance was expected to reach 300,000, down from previous years due to poor firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow me on Twitter @eatmywordsblog