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2020 Compass Festival heads to the heart of Taichung

The sheer variety of restaurants, cafes, teahouses, bars, shops and entertainment found in a constantly changing city like Taichung can be near impossible to capture or encapsulate in a single event. However, over the past 17 years, Compass Magazine’s annual Compass Taichung International Food & Music Festival has worked hard to do just that.  Since its inception in 2004, this international-leaning event has aimed to showcase the “Best of Taichung” in one package, much like its namesake publication aims to do every month.  

Although the festival’s organizers have tried to find ways to expand and improve this event each year, the 2020 Compass Festival, taking place on the weekend of October 17 and 18, truly stands as a milestone, thanks to its brand-new location at what can be considered Taichung’s No. 1 outdoor event site. Seventeen years ago, the festival initially took place at SOGO Department Store’s entrance plaza and, outgrowing that, moved for many years to the Art Museum Parkway. Other venues have included Calligraphy Greenway and, during the past two years, the now-closed UNO Market next to Top City Department Store. 

Now, for the first time, it will be held at Taichung Civic Square (also know to some as People’s Park), most famous as the main Taichung Jazz Festival site but also popular year-round as a destination for residents and visitors. This broad expanse of grass offers almost unlimited space for two days of festival enjoyment around the event stage, with vendors being conveniently positioned along the bordering sidewalks.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that access to this very desirable location comes on a year when the Jazz Festival has been cancelled for the first time in its history. Although Compass Festival is undoubtedly more modest in scale than the 9-10 day jazz event, its Taichung-centered flavor and focus promises to once again delight participants with a wide range of locally-sourced live music and dozens of vendors selling an international mix of food, drinks and other products and services.

As usual, Compass Festival will be open to the public from about 12 noon until around 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The highest-profile aspect of this event is nonstop live music by 18-20 foreign and Taiwanese bands and artists, almost all based in Taichung. While this year’s line-up will feature more jazz than usual, the variety of musical genres will stretch across rock, country and western, blues, folk, funk and other forms, ranging from relaxing to very danceable. Confirmed acts at press time for this edition included Café Con Pan, Point 22, Shapemaster, San Jiao Mao, CAM Collective, Lauren Leach, Nick Fothergill and Native Space.

The dozens of Compass Festival vendors are perhaps even more diverse that the live music.  Food and drink sellers, for example, vary from Indian, Australian and American to Taiwanese establishments, selling all manner of reasonably priced foods and alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages.  In another notable change from previous festivals, there is not one, but two, official, exclusive beer sponsors—Budweiser/Corona (Anheuser-Busch InBev) and Moritz Beer Barcelona (DO Vinos)—selling their brews from special booths. Fellow sponsor DXCEL International will be offering a range of imported spirits, from whiskey to vodka, while other regular vendors will serve up a variety of cocktails, wines and other drinks.

Other booths will be operated by another long-time Compass Festival sponsor, World Gym, event co-organizer Taichung City Government Cultural Affairs Bureau, and local organizations and institutions such as International Women’s Association of Taichung, Starlight International School, and iBike, which will be hosting some special on-site promotional activities on Saturday from 12 to 6 p.m.

Besides its Cultural Affairs Bureau co-organizer, Compass Magazine would like to thank the official sponsors of the 2020 Compass Festival, which include Anheuser-Busch InBev (Budweiser/Corona), Moritz Beer Barcelona (DO Vinos), DXCEL International, World Gym, and Corning Taiwan.  Without the support and cooperation of these companies and organizations this event would not be possible.

Located in West District, Taichung Civic Square is located at the corner of GongYi Road and ZhongXing Street, opposite Park Lane by CMP/Eslite mall, and can be easily found via Google Maps.  

The entire festival is free and open to visitors of all ages (averaging 15,000-20,000 in past years).  With the exceptions of a typhoon or Covid-19 related emergency, the event will continue rain or shine. For the latest festival updates, check the “Compass Food & Music Fest 2020” Facebook event page.

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Written by 何道明 Douglas Habecker

Douglas Habecker is the editor-in-chief of Compass Magazine

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