'A day is not enough': 2009 Compass Taichung International Food & Music Festival fills a weekend
By Douglas Habecker Translated by Ann Lee
Over the past five years that Compass Magazine has organized its uber-popular annual Taichung International Food & Music Festival, a common refrain has been heard from festival-goers: This event should be longer and it should be held more often. Even Taichung Mayor Jason Hu has challenged organizers to consider holding two events, not just one, per year.
While May remains the sole month of the year for the Festival, Compass organizers have decided to heed the calls for an expanded event and this year--for the first time--turned it into a two-day, Saturday-Sunday, May 23-24 event, further solidifying its position as one of Central Taiwan's biggest annual international food-and-music events. This not only means that the Festival can attract and accomodate more visitors, but also that it can feature more live bands than ever. There was one other motivation for this new, spread-out format--daily festivities will start slightly later in the day, at around 2-3 p.m. to give vendors, musicians and visitors alike some respite from the typically-punishing midday heat and humidity.
One thing that will definitely not be changed from 2008's event is its location. Despite a difficulties encountered by a handful of participants in finding it last year, Taichung's very popular Art Museum Parkway was almost universally praised by festival-goers and vendors in 2008, when the event moved there for the first time. This grassy expanse, bordered by what is arguably Taichung's most colorful, electic cluster of restaurants, cafes and shops is within two blocks of the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, and offers a wonderful setting for individuals and groups to linger all day. (See "Getting There" note below.)
And there will be plenty of reasons to linger at this year's two-day Festival. Two main factors help keep visitors around all day long--the music and the food and drink vendors. Once again, Festival Live Music Coordinator Patrick Byrne--easily one of the most knowledgeable, experience live-music coordinators in Taiwan--has brought together an outstanding, flavorful variety of musical styles and acts, which will hit the stage non-stop from beginning to end, offering up rock, funk, jazz, blues, country, punk and everything in between. This mix of about 15 locally-based foreign and Taiwanese bands includes returning favorites like Money Shot Horns, Point 22, Dirty Skies, 3 Day Bender, Militant Hippi, Moss, and Round Midnight, plus first-time Festival participants like Reider, the DoLittles, and Rage Against the Cash Machine. For an updated schedule of bands and times, keep checking www.taiwanfun.com closer to the event weekend.
"It looks fantastic this year," notes Byrne. "There's a little more variety with the addition of bands like the DoLittles from Changhua and Wailin' Soul, both exceptional bands with seasoned musicians. You'll get a very high level of entertainment from bands like that, plus other great returning bands from last year."
Filling in the "food' side of this event will be dozens of food/drink vendors, as well as other Parkway establishment vendors selling non-food items like art and handicrafts. Last year's Festival saw about 50 vendor booths and this year's is anticipated to be about the same, with cuisine and beverages offered by some of Taichung's finest, most popular restaurants, hotels, pubs, cafes and retailers. This is representative of Taichung's international dining scene and will include German, Indian, Italian, Chinese, American and many other ethnic food/drink items. As noted below, cold beer will be supplied in abundance by this year's Official Beer Sponsor Taiwan Beer, which will be running a beer tent at the Festival to promote its exciting new beer products.
The Compass Taichung International Food & Music Festival first took place in 2004 for the primary purpose of celebrating Compass Magazine's then-10th anniversary and showcasing Taichung's cornucopia of excellent dining and nightlife establishments. This mission quickly expanded to include the city's live music scene. These goals continue as Compass marks its 16th birthday this month. To make such an event a reality, however, requires a tremendous amount of support and cooperation. The 2009 Festival is being made possible thanks to main government sponsors Ministry of Economic Affairs Department of Commerce, and Taichung City Government. In addition to Festival Co-organizer Art Museum Parkway Management Committee, which works tirelessly to promote the Parkway, other key event sponsors include Official Festival Beer Sponsor Taiwan Beer, Event Sponsors Columbia Consulting Company and EZTable.com, Tribe Bay Advertising Co., and Yi Jan Management Consulting Co., and media sponsor Sunny FM89.1.
While the music, food, drinks and other fun are an essential element of this event, one of the greatest attributes of the Compass Taichung International Food & Music Festival from the very beginning is the sight of thousands of visitors--Taiwanese, foreigners, residents, visitors, young, old, individuals and families--united in the single-minded pursuit of good, healthy, old-fashioned fun. Such things represent Taichung, its people and its attractions at their finest. With that in mind, this year's festival only needs one more key ingredient for success--you!