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Taste of Saskatchewan going on hiatus this year, organizer says

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Taste of Saskatchewan is tasting a break this summer.

The summer staple at Saskatoon’s Kiwanis Park will not take place in 2023 as SaskTel Centre — the group who organizes the festival — reevaluates its prospects moving forward.

"It's been very tough to get restaurants," Scott Ford, SaskTel Centre executive director said. "Mainly because of the inflation costs. They're having a tough time gauging menu items and also having a tough time getting labor."

Ford says the last two years have been particularly tough as revenue from the festival started to dwindle with uncertainty taking over both the event and restaurant industries.

Last year, Ford said he had commitments from restaurants in the months and weeks leading up to the festival, but by the time the festival started he had to proceed without a handful of restaurants who could no longer take part.

The same staffing, taxation and inflation costs are also apparent for SaskTel Centre. Ford says Taste of Saskatchewan costs roughly $300,000 to $400,000 to operate each year. With costs rising for restaurant owners and SaskTel Centre, Ford wasn't confident the festival could remain affordable for the average attendee.

"The challenge is, as inflation and operating costs increase, you need to increase your revenues to stay in line, and we haven't been able to do that," Ford said.

Since 1996, the only other time Taste of Saskatchewan didn't operate was in 2020 because of COVID-19-related restrictions.

Ford has been involved in planning the festival for 25 years, and he feels a break is in its best interest moving forward.

"Let's just rest the event a year, re-evaluate it, and look at whether we want to proceed with bringing Taste of Saskatchewan back in 2024," he said.  

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