Villain: Taste of the Danforth
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Villain: Taste of the Danforth

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains of 2007––the people, places, and things that we’ve either fallen head over heels in love with or developed uncontrollable rage towards over the past twelve months. Get your dose, starting Boxing Day and running into the new year, three times a day––sunrise, noon, and sunset.
From modest and acclaimed beginnings in 1994, Taste of the Danforth has become Toronto’s biggest—and worst—street festival. A lot is written about the Taste each August, with shiny happy previews quickly giving way to disappointed reviews. The list of grievances is long: overpriced tastes that are more expensive than what you could get on the street any other day of the year, the overwhelming presence of corporate sponsors that are otherwise absent from the neighbourhood, and—new for the 2007 edition—the saddest children’s fun zone this side of Walley World. With many of the restaurant booths outsourced, lining up for half an hour for a stick of overcooked souvlaki could net you little more than a taste of disappointment.
To cap the experience, there’s not a bench or chair in sight upon which to rest your overindulged butt. Sure, you can sit in a nearby parking lot or on the curb but don’t try to sit on a chair without ponying up for a warm drink and limp burger in the beer garden. During the CNE every year, many Parkdale residents rent out their lawns as parking spots. During the Taste, savvy east-enders should start setting out chairs on their front lawns and offering a respite from the relentless crowd. Five bucks for half an hour of rest on a folding chair. Expect a booming business in 2008.
From the over-the-top hype that heralds it every year to the lame microwave pizza giveaways and overpriced lemonade that greet visitors, the Taste of the Danforth has become so far removed from its origins and its neighbourhood that it’s difficult to remember what made it so wildly popular in the first place. The Taste deserves villainy not for being merely lame or crowded or busy, but for alienating increasing numbers of locals, visitors, and merchants each year, and giving street festivals a bad name.
Photo by gerrychu from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.