HISTORY of the Festival and the Organization that runs it
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. Taste of the Danforth is an excellent example of how a BIA can contribute to local economic development.
The Festival 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. In fact, in a previous survey, 54% of respondents self-identified as being ethnic.
The Festival began in 1994 when the GreekTown BIA wanted to find new ways to entice people to come to the Danforth, and enjoy the amazing Greek cuisine. More effective than individual restaurants advertising, they decided to create an event. The idea was to set up "Tasting Tables” so that attendees could try food 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 tasting item costs more than $6.
In the first year, approximately 5,000 people attended the Festival. 23 restauranteurs 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 nights and two days. They come to enjoy food, free entertainment and culture. The Taste of the Danforth is one of Toronto’s signature events, showcasing the best of what our multicultural city has to offer: music, the arts, sports and -- of course -- food.
GREEKTOWN GIVES BACK TO THE COMMUNITY - PROFITS DONATED TO CHARITY
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 and its Chair -- Constantine Voidonicolas.
Over the years, GreekTown has donated several millions of dollars to the Michael Garron Hospital (formerly Toronto East General Hospital) as well as a host of other charities.
Big Economic Impact for Toronto
The Festival and GreekTown on the Danforth BIA contribute significant impact to the Province and City. In 2018, the Festival’s single weekend economic impact was $106 million.
The Festival is a tourist magnet, with 43% of attendees travelling 40 kilometers or more to attend the Taste of the Danforth last summer, and 77% of visitors stating the Festival was the primary reason for them to travel to Toronto. Equally important to the Province’s economy is the fact that 94% of out-of-towners plan to return this year. In addition, the Festival provides a significant source of exposure for the small retailers and restauranteurs on the Danforth.
The Festival would not be possible without the support of our many sponsors, particularly the Ontario Government through the Celebrate Ontario Grant.