Street fest proves hottest event in town

Taste of the Danforth visitors undeterred by rain

Even the rain couldn’t deter over a million excited visitors from the Taste of the Danforth.

The event attracted a record-breaking crowd this year, said Howard Lichtman, one of the festival’s organizers.

“Zeus, the Greek god, smiled upon us,” he said. “This year we attracted over 1.5 million people.”

Businesses reported Friday sales were similar to the sales typically made on a Saturday. Lichtman attributes much of that success to Canada’s diversity.

“Canada is a cultural mosaic where people enjoy and cherish the various different ethnic groups,” he said.

But one of the more important factors was the warm and welcoming experience of the festival.

“Restaurants are owned and run by families,” Lichtman said. “It’s a different atmosphere compared to chain stores.”

While Lichtman said the event’s success can’t be reduced to a single factor, he lauds the many volunteers, including members of the Greektown on the Danforth BIA, who help organize and run the event.

Not to forget the entertainment — everything from music and dance to improv comedy and Elvis Presley impersonators — help to bring in the crowds.

“We offer an unprecedented amount of free entertainment … and it’s not only Greek,” he said.

But of course the most mouth-watering reason for attending is the food.

The three-kilometre stretch of road is lined with tasting stations offering something for all from Greek to Asian to South American cuisine.

Lichtman said the festival has changed dramatically over the years.

“It’s gotten larger, the entertainment has exploded and the food has become more multicultural,” he said, adding the festival’s popularity is spreading beyond the traditional fan base of the Greater Toronto Area.

“This year we even had many Americans in attendance,” he said.

He said organizers were very pleased with this year’s outcome.

“If we can repeat this year’s festival next year and continue to make people happy, we’d be happy,” he said.

About this article:

By: Alima Hotakie
Posted: Aug 22 2011 3:29 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto