The Festival is organized by the GreekTown on the Danforth BIA, a not-for-profit organization, run by a volunteer Board, and chaired by Constantine Voidonicolas. The GreekTown on the Danforth BIA is an excellent example of how a BIA can unite local restaurateurs and retailers along a street to promote businesses.
It began as a celebration of Hellenic cuisine and culture. It has grown to become a celebration of both its Greek heritage and the multicultural nature of the city of Toronto. While a number of the events and programs are reflective of the area's Greek roots, the Festival programming and its audience have grown to encompass a much broader spectrum of the Toronto community.
The Festival began in 1994 when a group of restaurateurs on the Danforth tried to find new ways to entice people to come to the Danforth and enjoy their amazing Greek cuisine. They decided that rather than advertising individually, they would be better off pooling their resources and advertising together. The idea was to set up "tasting" tables - so that individuals could try food fare from a number of restaurants, and thus The Taste of the Danforth began. In order to encourage people to try various dishes, the prices were kept very low and even today, no dish costs more than $5.
In the first year, approximately 5,000 people attended the Festival.
Twenty-three restaurateurs participated, selling an eclectic mix of "tastes" from tasting tables. The following year, attendance grew to 100,000. By 1996, the Festival was so large that Danforth Avenue had to be officially closed to vehicular traffic in order to accommodate over 500,000 visitors. Today, the Festival has grown to approximately
1.6 million visitors during the course of three days and two nights.
They come to enjoy food, entertainment and culture. The Krinos Taste of the Danforth is one of Toronto's signature events, showcasing the best of what our multicultural city has to offer - music and the arts, sports and -- of course -- food.
GreekTown Gives Back to the Community
The Festival combines exquisite food, culture and music with extraordinary philanthropy to benefit the local community. Profits from the Festival are donated every year back to the community by the GreekTown on the Danforth BIA.
Over the years, GreekTown has donated more than $2 million to Toronto East General Hospital. In 2012, GreekTown committed to a further
$500,000 to enhance paediatric care and in 2015, GreekTown made a commitment to a joint hospital project between Sick Kids and a children's hospital in Greece - Agia Sofia.
The Festival and GreekTown have also supported additional charities and causes such as prostate cancer, among others. As part of GreekTownâ€™s annual â€˜March of the Santasâ€™, monies are raised for Princess Margaret Hospital through the sale of Toronto Firefightersâ€™ Calendars, and toys and donations are gathered for the CP24/CHUM Christmas Wish.
It is not only the big charities that benefit from the Festival. The GreekTown on the Danforth BIA has donated to local schools (William McCordic School and William Burgess School) for use by children with special needs.
GreekTown also donates to a number of other local charities, including Toronto Crime Stoppers, 55 Divisionâ€™s Youth Scholarship Fund, Riverdale Share Community Association, and The East York Seniorsâ€™ Foundation. GreekTown has also donated to Dr. Phyllis Billiaâ€™s cancer research at Toronto General and Toronto Western Hospitals.
GreekTown naturally supports a number of Greek initiatives, including donating to the Greek Community of Toronto to help families and schools, SOS Villages which gives orphans a mother and a home, the Smile of a Child, University of Torontoâ€™s Greek studies program, the Hellenic Canadian Federation of Ontario, Nefeli (theatre and dance), Greek Community of Mississauga, and the Hellenic Home for the Aged.
The 10th Annual Toronto East General Hospital Danforth Dash Bed Race is back this summer and takes place on Friday, August 5th to kick off the Festival. The race will be from 1:30pm to 2:30pm on the Danforth, just east of Broadview Avenue. Local businesses, the hospitalâ€™s Emergency Services, TV celebrities, NHL athletes and Canadian Olympians will be competing to see who can win the 2016 Golden Bed Pan Trophy. For further information, please visit foundation.tegh.on.ca
Big Economic Impact for Toronto
The Festival and GreekTown on the Danforth BIA contribute significant impact to the Province and City. In 2015, the Festivalâ€™s single weekend economic impact was $88.1 million. These numbers are based on governmental economic models tied to tourism. They donâ€™t take into account the great economic impact that the Festival has on the GreekTown on the Danforth BIAâ€™s members, which consist primarily of small retailers and restaurateurs.
The Festival is a tourist magnet. Forty-four percent (44%) of attendees travelled 40 kilometres or more to attend the Krinos Taste of the Danforth last summer. The primary reason for visiting the Toronto region for 77% of visitors was the Festival. For a significant 38.5%, their sole reason for coming to Toronto was the Festival.
Equally important to the provinceâ€™s economy is the fact that 92% of out-of-towners plan to return this year.
People continue to love the Festival: 98% rated it as Good, Very Good or Excellent.