What is Taste of Madison?
The Taste of Madison is a celebration of food, entertainment, and fun! For the past 35 years, Madison's finest in eats and entertainment, families and friends gather in the Capitol Square for this free festival. Typically, Taste of Madison features over 80 restaurants and 200+ menu items, 26 beverage stands, 3 stages, and over 35 live musical performances.
When is Taste of Madison?
Taste of Madison is held over Labor Day weekend each year. In 2018, dates are Saturday, September 1 from 2 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. and Sunday, September 2 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
General Event Guidelines:
Entering this event constitutes implied consent of each event-goer to Taste of Madison's use of his/her image and/or likeness incidental to any photographic, digital or video use, publication, display, transmission or recording of the event. No unauthorized vendors, solicitations, handbills, sampling, giveaways, etc. Alcoholic beverages may not be taken in or out of entrances. Taste of Madison reserves the right to deny entry or remove anyone from the event in violation of these policies.
How many people attend?
Taste of Madison is free and open to the public. An estimated 250,000 people come over the course of the whole weekend.
Is there an admission fee?
There is no admission fee for Taste of Madison. Revenue from on-site beverage sales allow the Taste of Madison to remain an admission-free event. Proceeds also benefit our many non-profit partners' important community programs.
How much is the food? How big are the serving sizes?
All the food at the Taste of Madison is priced between $1 and $4. Each serving is 6 ounces or less. Smoothies are 12 ounces or less.
How much is the soda, water, beer, wine?
See our "Beverages" page. Make sure to bring your ID if you plan to drink beer, wine, or malted beverages!
How do I pay for food and beverages?
Cash is accepted at each food and beverage stand. Please, no bills larger than $50. There are plenty of ATMs located all around Capitol Square.
Is this a charity event?
Yes. Volunteers earn an hourly wage, plus 100% of the tips benefit local non-profit and charitable organizations.
Does the city of Madison put on this event?
No. The city simply supplies permits which the event and vendors pay for. No tax dollars go toward Taste of Madison.
Who puts on this event?
The Taste of Madison is a Madison Festivals, Inc. (MFI) event. MFI is a non-profit volunteer organization that enriches our community by bringing together people, businesses and charities.
Will the Farmer's Market still take place on Saturday?
The Farmer's Market will take place on the Saturday of Taste from 6 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Can I bring my pet?
Animals other than service dogs or police animals are not allowed at Taste of Madison. City of Madison Ordinance 23.315 prohibits animals from any event with more than 5 food vendors. This ordinance carries a $100 fine plus court costs. State of Wisconsin law bans animals on the Capitol Square park.
Can I bring my own cooler to the Taste of Madison?
Please abide by the "NO CARRY IN" policy. There are plenty of delicious food and drink options and the sales benefit charities! Our liquor licenses requires alcohol to be dispensed by trained servers and supervised by bartenders. All tips at beverage stands go directly to represented charities. Madison Festivals grants over $60,000 to charities that supply the Taste of Madison volunteers. Income derived from beverage sales and restaurant vendor fees offset expenses for entertainment, government services including police and paramedics, power, permits, volunteers and cleanup in order to provide this event and the free entertainment.
Are any of the roads closed?
Capitol Square and surrounding 100 blocks and the 200 block of MLK and Wisconsin Ave are closed to traffic.
Where should I park?
Street parking with and without meters is available near Capitol Square. See real-time parking availability in downtown ramps
How are the restaurants selected?
Restaurants at the Taste of Madison must have an established business in the area. They are voluntary participants and are permitted to sell their wares at Taste on an application basis.
Who picks the "Best of" winners?
Many "Best of" winners are chosen prior to the event by a panel of about 50 judges. "Best of Taste" is voted on and chosen by you, the guest! Vote for your favorite overall restaurant at the Madison.com and Wisconsin State Journal booths.
Does Madison Festivals take a percentage of what the restaurants earn?
Restaurants pay a flat fee to participate in Taste of Madison and keep what they make during the weekend.
Can I perform, protest, demonstrate and/or hand out literature or promotional items at the Taste?
Street performers, musicians, artists, mascots, vendors, and nonprofit groups are not permitted on the Capitol Square or surrounding 100 blocks during the Taste of Madison unless contracted with Madison Festivals, Inc. per our Street Use Permit.