Taste the rip-off at A Taste of Colorado

That'll be nine dollars, please.
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Is it just me, or did prices go way up at A Taste of Colorado?

The outdoor eatin’ extravaganza just held its 25th anniversary of offering Denver’s regular festival-goers a greater array of food options than turkey legs and corn dogs. But after checking it out this past weekend, I’d say you’re better off with the corn dog.

Like some other festivals, Taste is free, but they make you buy little tickets to trade with vendors for food or beer -- a racket in itself, because you always have one or two tickets left over that you can’t buy anything with and end up giving away or sending through the wash. But I digress.

The exchange rate at this year's Taste was eight tickets for five dollars. That’s not bad, until you start walking around and realize that most of the food averages around ten tickets. Maybe I could deal with that if the portions weren’t minuscule. I stood in line for the Texas de Brazil booth and asked for the twelve-ticket “meal” option of the chicken wrapped in bacon. Twelve tickets = $7.50.

I looked down at the plate that was handed to me.

“I asked for the meal,” I told the guy.

“That is the meal.”

“Three chunks of chicken and a roll? Where’s the side?”

“The roll is the side.”

“So I just paid three dollars for a roll?”

He didn’t answer. If other people were questioning the prices, I couldn’t tell. They were literally eatin’ the shit up. I watched one kid walk past with a bunch of corn on the cob for his family. It was like $35 worth of corn on the cob! What happened to our terrible economy?

Now, I understand that concessions are always more expensive. But this is essentially a street fair. It’s not like Springsteen was busting out a tune in front of the City & County Building or Jake Cutler was hut-hutting at the Seal Fountain. No, just a bunch of bands I’d never heard of or forgotten existed performing for the sunburned masses, who were too drunk off of seven dollar beers to realize they'd just spent eighty dollars for a day at a free festival.

Anyone know what’s up with the prices? Is the festival squeezing the vendors? Is it just that gas prices are making food more expensive? Is Denver really a city of suckers?

If you need me next Labor Day, I’ll be the guy standing next to the hot dog cart on the outside of the Taste fence, eating a braut with all the fixings for three dollars. Just like the God of Street Festivals intended. – Jared Jacang Maher

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