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No Turkey Legs At Taste Of Chicago This Year

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Some people relish them, others mock them, but the Taste of Chicago just wouldn't be the Taste of Chicago, without them, right?

Well, actually, yes. This year, there will be a Taste of Chicago as usual, but there won't be a turkey leg in sight.

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and Manny's Cafeteria and Deli – which has served the turkey legs at the Taste in recent years – confirmed to CBS 2 Wednesday that there won't be any turkey legs this year.

The reason, they said, is that Tim McGivern, who serves the barbecued turkey legs, is too ill.

McGivern began selling the barbecue turkey legs for the second year of the Taste in 1981, the Chicago Tribune recalled. At the time, he owned Great Godfrey Daniels restaurant in Skokie, but that restaurant closed after the 1996 Taste.

Since then, McGivern has partnered with other restaurants – Helen's Restaurant from 1997 until 2009, and Manny's for the past couple of years, the Tribune reported.

But now, he needs surgery on his right knee and complex back surgery, and has decided to sit out, the newspaper reported.

McGivern tells the Tribune he won't rule out returning next year.

As Chicagoans have already learned by now, the absence of turkey legs won't be the only change to the Taste this year.

The festival will be reduced from 10 days to five, and will also be moved from the time around the July 4 holiday to mid-July.

On its old schedule, the Taste would have started this weekend. But the first day this year won't come until July 11.

For many years, the Taste of Chicago boasted big-name musical acts, as well as restaurants. But it has lost some $7 million in the past three years.

Last year, attendance for the Taste was down 2.35 million compared with two years earlier. There were shorter hours and no big-name musical acts.

The onetime climax of the Taste, the July 3 Fireworks Extravaganza, was eliminated in 2010 in an effort to save money, and after a gun fight broke out as the crowd left the show two years before that. One man was killed in the 2008 incident.

The Chicago Park District handled the Taste of Chicago for the first and only time last year, amid calls to privatize the festival. But this year, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events has taken over again.

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