Today, the fifth annual Compass Taichung International Food and Music Festival will be held in a new venue that has allowed organizers to more than double the number of booths at the event. Compass magazine will be celebrating its 14th anniversary, and as the leading bilingual city guide for Central Taiwan, wants to showcase the best of food and music Taichung has to offer.
An after-party that starts at 10pm will be held at 89K, with bands Public Radio and High Tide.
“The Art Museum Parkway is just an outstanding venue,” organizer Douglas Habecker said in an interview on Wednesday. “Everyone has been very positive; it’s such a nice place, more spacious and green. We have 50 different booths lined up this year.”
Though the previous venue, Sogo Department Store’s outdoor plaza, gave the event high visibility and ease of access, Habecker said, “there was a downside because of the limited space — all concrete and no grass.” Nonetheless, he believes the event has been a success since year one, when it had nine bands and 20 vendors. Habecker said the fest now attracts an average of 7,000-plus people throughout the day each year, but he hopes for an even larger crowd this year at the new venue.
The Art Museum Parkway is a popular artist and commercial area with sidewalks lined with small shops, art galleries, cafes and restaurants interspersed with greener areas and rest areas. The parkway starts opposite the main entrance to the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. The main area of the festival will be in the center where most of the cafes and restaurants are.
Habecker said this is one of the differences compared to previous years: “We’ve opened the vendors to include more than food and drink — a number of Art Museum Parkway businesses wanted to participate, so we have galleries, charity booths, even a veterinary hospital booth with activities with animals — we really wanted to have something for everyone.”
What: Compass Taichung International Food and Music Festival 2008 (歡迎大家來參加一年一度 2008康百視台中國際美食音樂節)
Where: Art Museum Parkway (美術綠園道), Taichung City, between Wuquan 5th and 7th streets (台中市在五權五街和五權七街之間)
When: Today from 10:30am to 9pm
Tickets: The festival and bands are free; prices vary at booths
After-party information: 10pm to 3am with Public Radio and High Tide at 89K, Daguan Rd, Nantun Dist, Taichung City (台中市南屯區大觀路21號). Call (04) 2320-7010 for more information; NT$300 cover includes one beer
Something for everyone certainly covers the range of food: Aborigine, American, Argentine, Cantonese, French, Greek, Italian and Spanish dishes, with a range of beverages from coffees and teas to cocktails available. The “official beer sponsor” for the event is Le Ble d’Or, which will be running a beer tent.
The music on offer is just as diverse. ’Round Midnight starts the day off with jazz at 10:30am. “My band plays every year,” said Patrick Byrne, also the music director for the festival. “We play while the tents are being set up and make sure there is a decent sound check to make sure all the bands have good sound — it’s also a good diplomatic move: it shows we are willing to sacrifice our morning and play first.” Byrne chuckled, then and added, “It’s also helpful if anyone complains about their time: ‘Sure, I can change your time. You can switch with my band and play first.’”
The new venue is likely to change the experience of opening the festival, as the parkway already has a lot of morning foot traffic that continues throughout the day. Byrne is as excited at Habecker about the venue: “Aesthetically it’s so much better, with trees and open space.”
The lineup for the day includes festival veterans, including alternative-country/psychedelic trio .22 and ’Round Midnight. New bands formed from members of bands that have played previously but are now defunct are also performing: Two of the musicians from The Rising Herons used to be in funk band Boogie Chillin’, and psychedelic, 1960s-style rock band Moss is headed by Erin King, formerly of well-known Taichung band Milk. Alice’s Tears got in at the last moment when another band backed out as the fliers were going to press. Byrne asked his bandmate from The Money Shot Horns, Wesley James, if he would like his new band to perform and he jumped at the chance. James plays trumpet in both bands.