The Taste of Oak Brook Returns on July 3rd
By Chuck Fieldman
An old friend is scheduled to return July 3 to Oak Brook after a three-year absence. Taste of Oak Brook, which began in 2008 and is by far the village’s largest and most popular annual event, is due to be back at the polo field at 700 Oak Brook Road, starting at 3 p.m. and continuing through a fireworks show at dusk. Admission is free. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in Taste of Oak Brook being canceled in 2020 and 2021, and in 2019, the event was canceled because heavy rains made the grounds unsuitable to hold it. “I’m excited, and I think this is a really big deal for everyone because it brings us back to normalcy after a couple of crazy years and helps start us getting back to our routines,” said Michael Manzo, an Oak Brook Village Board member who co-chairs the village’s Taste of Oak Brook Committee, along with fellow board member Suresh Reddy. “Taste of Oak Brook has been very popular with people, especially families, from Oak Brook and many other surrounding areas,” Manzo said. “You just don’t find many places, anymore, with all of that open green space like we have for the Taste. It’s such a beautiful setting, and there’s so much room, which gives people a wonderful space to spread out with their families and enjoy a great day.” Reddy, a family care physician, said events, such as Taste of Oak Brook, are important right now. “COVID has had a huge impact on people, and this is a way boost mental health,” he said. “I’m very excited because this is very important for everyone, to bring people together.
The community has been scattered and isolated for a while.” Duff Rice, the leader of Duff Entertainment, which has been contracted by Oak Brook for the past eight years to manage Taste of Oak Brook, agreed with Manzo that the Oak Brook polo field offers a very special setting for the event, as compared to most places outside of the village. “The setting is different, a great place to bring families and get together,” he said. Rice said he doesn’t believe it’s going to be a challenge, after three years off, to get people to come out for this year’s Taste of Oak Brook. “Everyone’s so excited it’s coming back,” he said. “People are looking for things to do, and social media will help get the word out that Taste of Oak Brook is back.” Village officials said the event typically attracts some 20,000 people throughout the day, which features several food vendors, kids activities, entertainment and the fireworks show at dusk. Another tradition for Taste of Oak Brook is for many people to set up chairs and/or blankets along York Road and 22nd Street during the afternoon, often making it a picnic, to get a good spot to watch fireworks several hours later. Village President Gopal Lalmalani said he feels great about having had the opportunity to plan for the return of Taste of Oak Brook. “This is important to Oak Brook, our iconic event,” he said. “It’s something that we’ve become known for and brings a lot of people together for a spectacular day. Our residents look forward to it, as do many people from several other communities. Taste of Oak Brook has always been about the food, family, friends, fun and the fireworks.
“It’s something that we’ve become known for and brings a lot of people together for a spectacular day. Our residents look forward to it, as do many people from several other communities. Taste of Oak Brook has always been about the food, family, friends, fun and the fireworks. I’m very excited that it’s returning this year. My biggest hope now is for a day of good weather.”
I’m very excited that it’s returning this year. My biggest hope now is for a day of good weather.” “We just need to pray to the weather gods and hope that we have good weather, especially after not being able to have it the past three years.” While entertainment and activities for children, such as face painting, are popular aspects of Taste of Oak Brook, the food available for purchase is a marquee attraction. Event organizers have confirmed the following restaurants will be selling samples from their menus: Paul’s Pizza, Fogo De Chao, Real Urban Barbecue, Cold Stone Creamery, Labriola Cafe and Tone Capone’s Tacos, a truck. “That’s a pretty good variety,” Manzo said. Both Manzo and Rice said events such as Taste of Oak Brook face challenges this year, as restaurants continue, in many cases, to struggle with staffing, something that has been the case since the pandemic began. “With where the restaurant industry is, some of the restaurants are hesitant to make a commitment because of personnel issues,” Manzo said. Lalmalani said village officials are continuing to look for sponsors to help make up for the loss of the annual $100,000 donation McDonald’s gave to the village for Taste of Oak Brook, before the company moved its corporate offices in 2018 to Chicago. While organizers said Taste of Oak Brook will have a very familiar feel for those who have previously attended, there will be some changes. No outside alcoholic beverages will be allowed into the Taste. The beverage tent will feature beer, wine, Sangria, water and soft drinks. The purchase of tickets for food, beverages and some children’s activities are available only on the event date. Food and beverage items range from 2 tickets to 7 tickets and cost $1 per ticket. There will be several ticket booths to purchase tickets. On-site Parking will be available for a fee of $20 per vehicle. A new option this year is pre-paid premium parking, which is being sold online in advance of the event at:
Handicap parking will be available at the Oak Brook Golf Club, with courtesy carts available to shuttle attendees to and from the field on which Taste of Oak Brook is taking place. No open-grilling, sparklers or pets are permitted. A rain date, for fireworks only, is July 4.
*Photo provided by the Village of Oak Brook