The Taste of Minnesota opened at noon Thursday with a host of changes, including a new admission fee.
For the first time in its 27-year history, the popular St. Paul festival is charging $10 at the gate. But the money paid in admission can be redeemed toward food and drink tickets. Festival-goers who enter the grounds at Harriet Island before 3 p.m. will get in free.
Andy Faris is one of the new co-owners for the festival. He said one reason organizers decided to start charging for the event was to attract better entertainment and improve the sound system.
"It's difficult to just be free," Faris said. "There's got to be some subsidy to put the upgrades that needed to be put into this. That money has to come from somewhere. And it was also from a security standpoint. We really felt that this was a way of keeping out people who were not there to have fun. They're there to cause trouble."
Elvis Costello and former Poison front man Bret Michaels are among the musical acts. Faris said planners doubled their budget on things like entertainment. Faris admits not every band in the line-up is cutting edge, but he says they're better than last year.
"White Snake is a huge improvement over Eddie Money," he said. "And Elvis Costello is a million miles better than Greg Brady."
Faris said he won't be surprised if the festival ends up in the red this year, but he said putting on a good show means the Taste will turn a profit in future years.
The festival ends Sunday night.