Overview and highlights of the upcoming 19th annual Danforth street festivalby Christelle Agboka
With over 1.3 million visitors, including 28% from over 40 kilometres away, from across Ontario, Quebec and even the US, Pilaros Taste of the Danforth is one of Canada’s largest, most renowned and successful street festivals. It is also the largest Greek festival nationwide, highlighting the Danforth’s Greek community, food, and friendly, easygoing atmosphere.
Taste of the Danforth is run by the Greektown Business Improvement Area (BIA), a volunteer board comprised of local restaurateurs and retailers, and chaired by entrepreneur Constantine Voidonicolas. Howard Lichtman, founder of The Lightning Group and a Taste of the Danforth organizer for the past four years, cites the festival’s main purpose as “getting [visitors] to experience the area and enjoy it, and come back every year,” which he believes is accomplished “through warmth and hospitality.”
For summer 2012 visitors can expect many of the Taste of the Danforth’s most beloved events and venues. This year there will again be three major stages — the Greek Stage, paying homage to Greece and Greek culture; the Broadview World stage, featuring music and dance from around the world; and The Celebrity Stage, which has previously presented a range of performers from The Second City to the Toronto Symphony, the Sound of Music cast, and dancers from So You Think You Can Dance.
The festival also has a Kids’ Fun Zone, offering fun kid-centric activities which have previously included Greek dancing lessons, “You Can Try It” circus and a visit from the Toronto Zoo mascot. There will also be a Sports Zone with physical challenges related to various sports from Toronto teams such as the Maple Leafs, Raptors, Argonauts, FC, Rock and Blue Jays.
Throughout the festival visitors can sample food from local restaurateurs via kiosks, and enter various contests. Every year they also have a chance to win a trip for two to “Glorious Greece” courtesy of one of the Taste of the Danforth’s media partners. Beyond fun, food and prizes, all festival profits go to support area organizations, including the Toronto East General Hospital, neighbourhood schools and Greek associations, with close to $2 million raised and donated to date.
Lichtman sums up the festival’s great appeal as this: “It’s a great fun excursion for individuals or for families. Other than the food, it’s completely free. You can’t get that calibre of entertainment anywhere for free. And it’s fun. People love it. We get 96% satisfaction scores [on market research surveys].”
For him, a highlight is “seeing a million people walking down the street with big smiles on their faces.”
Seems like Taste of the Danforth is a can’t-miss event! But don’t take our word for it. Come get a “taste” for yourselves!
This year’s Taste of the Danforth is still in the planning stages. As more information about final programs, exhibitors and performers becomes available, we will provide updates through our twitter feed.