by Nancy Stiles
Downtown food festival Taste of St. Louis is moving to Chesterfield, event organizers announced today. It has traditionally been held at the Soldiers Memorial Plaza near other downtown instutions like the Peabody Opera House, Union Station and St. Louis City Hall.
See also: The Food of Taste of St. Louis 2013
As the Post-Dispatch's Ian Froeb first reported, the Chesterfield Ampitheater (631 Veterans Place Drive, Chesterfield) was a big factor in the decision to relocate. It's also where the Bluesweek Festival will be held this year, as opposed to downtown.
To put it mildly, Twitter is not happy. Many are concerned that the location change will diminish attendance, while others say Chesterfield is not really St. Louis. It will definitely make it difficult for the Metro East to participate, especially since the MetroLink doesn't provide service to Chesterfield, and the buses are iffy.
I'm giving up @TASTESTL for Lent and permanently thereafter.— Brian S. (@downtownstlbiz) March 3, 2014
Who wants to do a real Taste of St Louis instead of schlepping to not-St Louis? We can hit up all our favorite restaurants over 3 days!— parkavepirate (@parkavepirate) March 3, 2014
@nancerdancer Definitely! There's plenty of people out there that love these kinds of events. I'm interested in restaurant pullout too.— Stacy McCann (@stacyELTblog) March 3, 2014
The "Fields of Chester" are great and we love the people there, but our events will be staying put in the City of St. Louis, FYI. #stl— St. Louis Mardi Gras (@STLMardiGras) March 3, 2014
Re: Festivals departing downtown STL: Meh. If it creates space for something more organic and less corporate, that'd actually be a big win.— Tim Logan (@bytimlogan) March 3, 2014
On the other hand, there is definitely a market in west county for this sort of event, and it will no doubt attract attendees from the outskirts of St. Louis like O'Fallon and St. Charles, perhaps even Wentzville. In a statement, Taste of St. Louis says it's looking to include "a more geographically diverse Restaurant Row."
"We are the region of St. Louis. We are St. Louis County. There are so many elements that make up the metro area," Taste of St. Louis organizer K. Sonderegger tells Gut Check. "We now have the opportunity for a more regional draw for our patrons and attract additional restaurants that may not have come downtown before."
Sonderegger says Taste of St. Louis wasn't trying to leave out the county when it was held downtown, and they aren't trying to leave out downtown residents by moving it to Chesterfield. She points out that the bus only takes about twenty minutes and drops you off right at Chesterfield Mall. In fact, she feels the new location will make it more of a regional event.
"Taste of St. Louis approached us to make it a more regional draw and we're pretty excited," the city of Chesterfield's superintendent of recreation operations Kari Johnson tells us. "The Chesterfield Amphitheater is such a unique venue that people can just come and relax and enjoy the nice ambiance."
"With the permanent stage, we're going to be able to put on some amphitheater shows and VIP experiences that we haven't been able to do in the past," Sonderegger says. Taste of St. Louis is working with Bravo, the Food Network and the Cooking Channel to bring in some "culinary heavy hitters." "We're excited about those possibilities. We just want to make this the best Taste of St. Louis we've had so far for everyone."
Taste of St. Louis will be September 19 to 21 at the Chesterfield Amphitheater.