Visitors flock downtown for Taste, Reds in record attendance

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Tens of thousands flocked to downtown Cincinnati to celebrate Memorial Day weekend.

About 500,000 people were expected to attend the 35th Taste of Cincinnati, but preliminary estimates show more people showed up this year than ever before.

"It's always fun. It's a great Cincinnati tradition," said event attendee Richard Jones.

"We love coming down here. Certainly appreciate everything that they put on," said Michael Faybik, who also made it down to the event.

Taste of Cincinnati is held annually on Memorial Day weekend along Fifth Street. As the nation's longest running culinary arts festival, local establishments offered 139 different dishes and plenty of drinks to wash it all down.

"I've tried some jambalaya, some rice and beans. It's been good. A lot of good stuff, lot of good food, good music, good time," said Jones.

"I've tasted about three or four food booths right now, and so far all of them are my favorite," added Tri-State resident Meribeth Jones.

Taste of Cincinnati organizers say on Saturday they had their biggest opening day in the festival's history.

"Sunday's number, yesterday's number, was actually bigger than Saturday," said Lance Barry, Public Relations Manager for Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.

The Cincinnati Reds also had a successful weekend. For only the second time since the team moved to the riverfront in 1970, the club sold out four consecutive games.

Monday's crowd of 38,822 was the Reds sixth sellout of the year.  Their division and in-state rivals the Cubs and Indians could have played a role in bringing fans out to the Great American Ballpark over the last few days.

"Certainly an influx of other baseball fans from other markets has certainly helped us the last three days as well," said Barry regarding attendance for the Taste.

Local businesses also took advantage of the big crowds.

"We were actually participating in the Taste of Cincinnati, while the restaurant was doing about 200 entrees," said Ruth's Chris Steakhouse General Manager Shawn Gardner.

Gardner says this was one of the best weekends they've had since they opened in late 2012.

"Just the exposure of people walking by, thousands upon thousands. It's been amazing," said Gardner.

Taste organizers say they haven't officially broke the record for attendance, but will find out once the final numbers come in towards the end of the week.

See the 2013 Best of Taste winners here:

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