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Fall fun returns with festivals, funnel cakes, flying trapezes and more

Fall fun returns with festivals, funnel cakes, flying trapezes and more

From the Fall arts guide: Hundreds of performances, exhibitions, author visits, festivals and more fun series
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The 46th annual Great Forest Park Balloon Race

The statue of King Louis IX atop Art Hill seems to welcome balloons as they lift off in 2018 at the Great Forest Park Balloon Race in Forest Park.

Enjoying a festival or performance with a crowd was pretty tricky or even unlikely last fall. But organizers have had more than a year to adapt and prepare for fall 2021.

Some summer events, like Circus Flora’s annual show and Tower Grove Pride’s festival, got a pandemic postponement to fall.

The St. Louis Art Fair, usually held in September in downtown Clayton, went virtual last year and is back in-person this year. Sarah Umlauf, director of the fair, says the delta variant threw organizers some curveballs.

“We all thought that by third quarter, we’d be sitting pretty,” she says. “Now we are the ones that are dealing with a little more back on our plates. Just to be back in person is worth it.”

The fair offered spots to all of the artists selected for the 2020 fair, and about 160 will participate. Artists’ booths will be more spread out, some with open sides, and artists may ask visitors to wear masks while coming in for a closer look. The art fair is also cashless for the first time, and parents and kids can pick up take-home kits from the popular Creative Castle craft area.

Umlauf says some artists chose not to travel to the fair for health reasons, but a handful declined because of low inventory. Their work has been selling so well, and buyers still want to support them, she says.

Circus Flora couldn’t perform during its traditional early summer season in 2020, instead dabbling a bit with online performances, hosting a weekend-only show with St. Louis artists in June, and bringing back the 2020 show “The Trial of the Century” in October.

Artistic director Jack Marsh says the Big Top’s flaps will be open to provide more ventilation, which might present daytime lighting challenges — or even breeze challenges for jugglers.

“Circus artists are adaptable and more excited to be performing in front of an audience than worry about smaller details like that,” he says.

Marsh says the pandemic downtime has given performers a chance to recast and refine their work, and they are ready to show their stuff in front of a live audience. “I imagine the energy in the tent will be the best that Circus Flora has to offer,” he says.

Affton Community Days Parade

When 10 a.m. Sept. 18 • Where Starts at Affton High School, 8309 Mackenzie Road, Affton • How much Free • More info afftonchamber.com

The theme for this year’s Affton Community Days Parade is “A Salute to Hometown Heroes,” honoring essential workers during the pandemic. The parade steps off at Affton High School, travels south on Mackenzie Road, then down Gravois and Weber roads, and ends at Bayless Elementary School.

Augusta Harvest Festival

When Sept. 17-18 • Where Augusta, Missouri • How much Free • More info augusta-chamber.org

Augusta’s Harvest Festival invites visitors to explore a day in the life of a German immigrant. Enjoy harvest specials at the town’s shops, restaurants, wineries and breweries, plus music, hayrides, and opportunities to enjoy a gourmet picnic and harvest dinner. A parade starts at 10 a.m. Sept. 18.

Belleville Oktoberfest

When 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sept. 17-18 • Where Downtown Belleville • How much Free • More info bellevilleoktoberfest.com

This is the 40th year for Belleville Oktoberfest, where visitors can compete in a stein-holding contest, cheer at the wiener dog races, shop and eat at the German Tent, and enjoy German cuisine and three stages featuring live entertainment. Musical acts include Dixie Express (Sept. 17) and Platinum Rock Legends (Sept. 18).

Best of Missouri Market weekend at Botanical Garden

Shoppers look at orchids for sale at the Best of Missouri Market in 2015 at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Best of Missouri Market

When Noon-8 p.m. Oct. 1, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 2-3 • Where Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard • How much $5-$16, free for member children age 3-12 • More info mobot.org

The Best of Missouri Market at the Missouri Botanical Garden returns with live music, a craft beer and cocktail court, and food, decor and crafts from more than 100 makers and vendors. Kids can visit farm animals, create crafts and decorate pumpkins. New this year: an instrument petting zoo presented by the School of Rock.

Big Truck Day

When 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Oct. 2-3 • Where Magic House, 516 South Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood • How much $15-$22, reservations required • More info magichouse.org

Get an up-close look at a crane, bucket truck, sleeper cab and other big vehicles. Your ticket includes a hot-dog meal, a construction hat, private playtime in Trike Town and Magic House admission all day.

Boo at the Zoo at the St. Louis Zoo

Boo at the Zoo at the St. Louis Zoo

Boo at the Zoo

When Oct. 15-31 • Where St. Louis Zoo, 1 Government Drive, Forest Park • How much $8.95-$11.95; reservations required for all zoo visits • More info stlzoo.org

The St. Louis Zoo gets in the Halloween spirit with spooky nighttime events and more low-key daytime fun. Visit Boo at the Zoo after hours to enjoy lights and decorated scenes throughout the park. Halloweekend celebrations (Oct. 16-17, Oct. 23-24, Oct. 30-31) feature special activities during the zoo’s regular hours. The German-inspired Zootoberfest takes place Oct. 2-3 and Oct. 9-10.

Boone Heritage Rendezvous

When 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 25-26 • Where 1869 Highway F, Defiance, Missouri • How much $5-$8 • More info sccmo.org

Join the Trappers of Starved Rock and living history interpreters in the historical buildings at the Historic Daniel Boone Home, which tells the story of the Boone family and of pioneer life in the early 1800s. The trappers will also demonstrate black powder shooting.

Brew in the Lou

When 1-5 p.m. Oct. 9 • Where Francis Park, Eichelberger Street and Donovan Avenue • How much $40-$50 • More info lesastl.org

While strolling the banks of the Lily Pond in Francis Park, Brew in the Lou visitors can sample more than 100 tasting stations from 45 local, regional and national breweries, wineries and distilleries. Proceeds benefit the Lutheran Elementary School Association’s member schools serving 8,300 students.

Circus Flora prepares for 33rd season

Abby Steiling gestures to the audience while suspended in the air in 2019 at the Circus Flora Big Top. 

Circus Flora

When Oct. 7-31 • Where The Big Top, 3401 Washington Boulevard • How much $10 and up • More info circusflora.org

The Big Top becomes the courtroom in the 35th annual show by Circus Flora, “Trial of the Century.” Circus artists from around the world will come together to tell this story of malfeasance and misconduct and contradictory conclusions.

Edwardsville Art Fair

When Sept. 24-26 • Where City Park, Edwardsville • How much Free • More info edwardsvilleartscenter.com

Enjoy the works of about 100 juried artists, create art in the children’s section, and sample locally made food and drinks. Proceeds benefit year-round programs by the Edwardsville Arts Center.

Eureka Scarecrow Festival

When Oct. 1-31 • Where Eureka • How much Free • More info eurekascarecrowfestival.com

Hunt all around Eureka for scary and silly scarecrows, vote on your favorites and share a selfie to win a cash prize. The city comes alive in October with Eureka Days (Oct. 1-3), Small Business Week (Oct. 4-8), a golf cart parade (Oct. 8), a block party (Oct. 9), Big Truck and Safety Day (Oct. 16), Super Hero Saturday (Oct. 23) and more special events.

Fall Farm Festival

When 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sept. 11 • Where Magic House, 516 South Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood • How much Free with museum admission • More info magichouse.org

Meet with local farmers to find out where your food comes from, sit behind the wheel of a tractor and admire real farm animals. The Missouri and Illinois Farm Bureaus sponsor this Magic House event.

FestiFall

When 1-6 p.m. Oct. 3 • Where Metter Park, 124 South Metter Avenue, Columbia, Illinois • How much Free • More info columbiaillinois.com

Celebrate fall by browsing unique goods, listening to music by the Z Band, eating authentic German pancakes and letting the kids enjoy activities just for them.

Folklife Festival

When 10-4 p.m. Sept. 25-26 • Where Faust Park, Chesterfield • How much Free • More info stlouiscountymo.gov

To celebrate Missouri’s bicentennial, go back in time to the 1820s and see period crafts, a military muster, and the home and grave of Missouri’s second governor, Frederick Bates.

Florissant Fall Festival

When 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 10 • Where Old town Florissant • How much Free • More info florissantoldtown.com

Enjoy 11 blocks of vendors, food and crafts in historic old town Florissant.

Great Forest Park Balloon Glow

Chris White (left) of St. Louis and Scotti Cobb (right) of Jefferson City help pilot Janice Sines (center) inflate her balloon in 2019 at the Great Forest Park Balloon Glow in Forest Park.

Great Forest Park Balloon Race

When Balloon glow 5-9 p.m. Sept. 17, with fireworks at 9:15 p.m.; festival and race noon-4:45 p.m. Sept. 18 • Where Central Fields, Forest Park • How much Free • More info greatforestparkballoonrace.com

The world’s oldest and most well-attended free hot-air balloon event returns after taking last year off because of the pandemic. On Sept. 17, balloons will light up Central Fields during the Balloon Glow. On Sept. 18, enjoy food and activities on the ground before more than 50 balloons take to the skies in the Great Forest Park Balloon Race. We’re hoping for optimal weather conditions; the 2019 race was called off because of excessive winds.

Grant's Farm Halloween Drive-Thru Experience

Cars pass through Halloween at the Farm on Oct. 2, 2020, at Grant's Farm.

Halloween at the Farm

When Sept. 30-Oct. 31; various entry times, Thursday-Sunday • Where Grant’s Farm, 10501 Gravois Road • How much $44 per car; reservations required • More info grantsfarm.com

Grant’s Farm brings back its popular Halloween drive-thru experience, which debuted last year and quickly sold out. At Halloween at the Farm, your brood remains in the car while rolling past spooky scenes. Upgrade your experience with a Tricks ’n’ Treats or Spooktacular package, which include drinks, snacks and other treats. During daytime hours Saturdays and Sundays, Oct. 2-31, Fall Fest returns with fall-themed food and drinks, a giant corn sandbox, and pumpkin and gourd decorating; stay at the park all day for $15.

Highland Street Art Fest on the Square

When 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 18 • Where Downtown Highland, Illinois • How much Free • More info highlandillinois.com/streetartfestival.html

Purchase artwork by local artists, watch as the streets become a canvas for chalk artists, sample beer at the beer tasting festival, and create your own work of art at the Highland Street Art Fest on the Square.

Greater St. Louis Hispanic Festival

Alfredo Carrasco (right) makes tacos with his cousin, Juan, at the Hispanic Festival in 2019 in Soulard Market Park. 

Hispanic Festival

When Oct. 2-3 • Where Knights of Columbus, 50 St Francois Street, Florissant • How much Free • More info hispanicfestivalstl.com

The Hispanic Festival, which has been held downtown and in Soulard, heads to Florissant this year, with authentic food and drinks, live music, art and dancing.

2016 Shaw Art Fair

Deb Matush of Kirkwood tries on hats from the Sassy Peacock Studio of Sunset Hills at the Shaw Art Fair in 2016.

Historic Shaw Art Fair

When 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 2, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 3 • Where 4100-4200 blocks of Flora Place • How much $8-$10, free for ages 14 and under; bring a nonperishable food item to save $1 • More info shawstlouis.org

Browse the artwork of 130 artists and makers from across the country while enjoying live music, food vendors and stately homes along tree-lined Flora Place. Proceeds benefit the Shaw Neighborhood Improvement Association.

Hop in the City Beer Festival

When Noon-5 p.m. Sept. 18 • Where Schlafly Tap Room, 2100 Locust Street • How much To be announced • More info schlafly.com

Hop in the City will take a slightly different direction this year, when the St. Louis Brewery releases a new Schlafly beer and unique variants available for purchase. Enjoy live music and a festival atmosphere while you sip.

Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live

When Nov. 6-7 • Where Family Arena, 2002 Arena Parkway, St. Charles • How much $11-$43, $10 for parking • More info familyarena.com

Watch the famous Hot Wheels monster trucks toys come to life in one epic show that includes a visit from the original monster truck, Bigfoot, and a car-eating, fire-breathing transforming robot Megasaurus. Pre-party tickets give fans up-close access to the trucks on the floor.

Italian Fest and Parade

When 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sept. 17, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sept. 18 • Where Uptown Collinsvillle • How much Free • More info italianfest.net

Toss a bocce ball, stomp grapes, and cheer for Mr. and Miss Italian Fest at this family-friendly, food-centric celebration in Collinsville, celebrating its 37th year. The parade is at 4 p.m. Sept. 18.

Kimmswick Apple Butter Festival

When 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 30-31 • Where Kimmswick • How much Free • More info gokimmswick.com

Come for the apple butter; stay for the live entertainment and hundreds of vendor booths. The Kimmswick Apple Butter Festival is the largest event in Jefferson County, drawing more than 100,000 visitors.

Kirkwood Greentree Festival

When 5-10 p.m. Sept. 17, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 18 (parade at 10 a.m.), 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 19 • Where Kirkwood Park, 111 South Geyer Road, Kirkwood • How much Free • More info kirkwoodmo.org

This family-oriented Kirkwood festival includes live music, a wine garden, a dog show, food vendors, a car show, arts and craft booths, and folklife reenactors.

Ghouling Stones play Halloween

Members of "The Ghouling Stones" entertain shoppers Oct. 18, 2020, at Legends & Lanterns in St. Charles.

Legends & Lanterns

When 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 9, noon-5 p.m. Oct. 10, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 16, noon-5 p.m. Oct. 17, 5-8 p.m. Oct. 22, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Oct. 23, noon-5 p.m. Oct. 24 • Where Main Street in St. Charles • How much Free • More info discoverstcharles.com

St. Charles becomes a ghost town when villains, witches and spirits invade the streets to offer treats and tricks. The Legends & Lanterns festival channels the vintage charm of Halloween from the 1910s to the ’30s, and you and your little monsters can interact with creepy characters, celebrate Dia de los Muertos, vote for your favorite scarecrow and learn about Victorian mourning customs.

Metro East Pride Fest

When Noon-10 p.m. Oct. 2 • Where West Main Street, Belleville • How much Free • More info metroeastpride.org

Metro East Pride celebrates diversity, equality and inclusion with a later-than-normal Pride Fest in Belleville. Entertainment includes performances by the Gateway Men’s Chorus, Short Mist, STL School of Rock Band, Social Remedy, Pussycat & the Swallowtails, DJ Boo, Stompbox and the Mixtapes, and Honeyvox, with drag shows and a high heel drag race.

Missouri River Irish Fest

From left: Tessa Luchtefeld, Rachel Phelps and Alicia Smith with the Shamrock Irish Dancers from Rolla, perform during the Missouri River Irish Fest in 2016 at Frontier Park in St. Charles. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Post-Dispatch photo

Missouri River Irish Fest

When 5-10:30 p.m. Sept. 10, 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Sept. 11, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 12 • Where Frontier Park, 500 South Riverside Drive, St. Charles • How much Free • More info mrifsc.com

Celebrate the top of the morning, afternoon and evening along the river at the Missouri River Irish Fest, which includes Irish dancers, musicians, craft and food booths, and even Irish wolfhounds to pet.

Moolah Shrine Circus

When Oct. 7-10 • Where Family Arena, 2002 Arena Parkway, St. Charles • How much $18.50-$38.50, $10 for parking • More info familyarena.com

Run away and join the clowns, trapeze artists, elephants, stallions and more at the Moolah Shrine Circus. For an extra fee, take a ride on an elephant or pony, slip down a giant slide or take a train ride.

Mosaics Fine Art Festival

When 4-9 p.m. Sept. 17, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sept. 18, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 19 • Where North Main Street, St. Charles • How much Free • More info stcharlesmosaics.org

The 26th annual Mosaics Fine Art Festival features works by artists from across the country. In addition to art available for sale, enjoy live performances, a children’s village and more.

Q in the Lous barbecue event in St. Louis

Ribs from Memphis Barbecue Co., of Horn Lake, Miss., at Q in the Lou in 2015

Q in the Lou

When Oct. 1-3 • Where Kiener Plaza, 500 Chestnut Street • How much Free, food available for purchase; Pit Pass access for $25-$75 • More info qinthelou.com

Get your fill of barbecue, live music and cold beer at the sixth annual Q in the Lou festival, where some of the country’s top pitmasters will smoke more than 18,000 pounds of meat. A 2½-hour Pit Pass gets you unlimited barbecue (without waiting in line), beverages and access to private restrooms.

Riverboats at the Gateway Arch

When Various dates in October • Where 50 South Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard • How much $18-$42 • More info 877-982-1410; gatewayarch.com/riverboats

Celebrate fall along the Mississippi River (and check out the foliage on the shoreline) with a new lineup of themed cruises on the Riverboats at the Gateway Arch. Check out the creepy show by Phantasmagoria, a Victorian horror troupe (Oct. 1, Oct. 3, Oct. 10, Oct. 15, Oct. 17, Oct. 22, Oct. 24), feast on German dishes and drinks on an Oktoberfest Cruise (Oct. 10, Oct. 17), show off your Halloween costume with other grown-ups (Oct. 30) and then bring the kids in costume (Oct. 30-31).

St. Charles Oktoberfest

When 4-11 p.m. Sept. 24, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Sept. 25, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 26 • Where Frontier Park, 500 South Riverside Drive, St. Charles • How much Free • More info saintcharlesoktoberfest.com

St. Charles Oktoberfest has traditional German music, dancing and food, of course. But you can also cheer for your favorites in the brat-eating contest, wiener dog race, 10K and 5K runs, and stein-holding contest. Admire the rides in the antique car show, and send the kids off to have fun in the “kinder garten.”

St. Louis Art Fair

Maryanne Havens of Denver hangs art for sale at the St. Louis Art Fair in 2019.  

St. Louis Art Fair

When 5-10 p.m. Sept. 10, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sept. 11, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 12 • Where Downtown Clayton • How much Free • More info saintlouisartfair.com

The St. Louis Art Fair returns to the streets of downtown Clayton after going virtual in 2020, featuring dozens of artists from across the country, live entertainment, food and activities for children.

St. Louis Beer Festival

When 8-11 p.m. Oct. 16 • Where St. Louis Science Center, 5050 Oakland Avenue • How much $50-$65 • More info stlouisbeerfest.com

This inaugural St. Louis Beer Festival, for ages 21 and up only, takes place at the St. Louis Science Center and features more than 40 breweries, 120 different beers and access to the museum’s exhibits. VIP ticketholders get an extra hour of sampling, with entry at 7 p.m.

St. Louis Renaissance Festival

When Weekends Sept. 18-Oct. 24, plus a shopping day 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 11 • Where Rotary Park, Wentzville • How much $10.95-$19.95, free for children under 4 • More info stlrenfest.com

For more than 20 years, the St. Louis Renaissance Festival has brought live armored jousting, more than 100 artisan shops, food, live entertainment, family activities and crafts to Wentzville’s Rotary Park.

Hallowfest at Six Flags

Rich Waychoff photographs an actor during Hallowfest, a socially distant Fright Fest event, in 2020 at Six Flags St. Louis. 

Six Flags Fright Fest

When Sept. 24-Oct. 21, various dates • Where Six Flags St. Louis, 4900 Six Flags Road, Eureka • How much Free with park admission • More info sixflags.com/stlouis

The most popular event of Six Flags St. Louis’ year returns with family-friendly scares and activities during the day and scarier ghouls wandering the grounds at night.

South Grand Makers Pop Up

When 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 12 • Where South Grand Boulevard between Arsenal and Humphrey streets • How much Free • More info southgrand.org

Shop and visit with more than 50 vendors lining the sidewalk of the South Grand business district. While you’re there, shop at the brick-and-mortar stores, or try lunch or dinner at the neighborhood’s diverse selection of restaurants.

The Taste in Ferguson

When 3-6 p.m. Sept. 12 • Where Savoy Banquet Center, 119 South Florissant Road, Florissant • How much $25, free for children under 10 • More info thetasteinferguson.com

Sample food and drinks from more than 20 restaurants to help raise scholarship money for youngsters. Over the last seven years, the event has brought in more than $170,000.

Taste of St. Louis

When Sept. 24-26 • Where Ballpark Village, 601 Clark Avenue • How much Free, with food available for purchase • More info tastestl.com

Bring your appetite for this annual celebration of food, featuring tastings from 25 St. Louis-area restaurants. The festival moved back to the city in 2019 under new ownership after five years in Chesterfield. It moves this year to the parking lot at Ballpark Village. The festival also includes live music and vendors.

Tower Grove Pride

Drag queen Roxie Valentine performs in 2019 at Tower Grove Pride in Tower Grove Park.

Tower Grove Pride

When 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 25 • Where Tower Grove Park • How much Free • More info towergrovepride.com

Better late than never. The popular Tower Grove Pride festival, usually held in June, was moved to September. Last year’s event was canceled, with organizers instead presenting a parade through the city of hundreds of colorfully decorated vehicles. Tower Grove Pride started in 2012 as a modest block party with about 1,000 attendees. Organizers say the festival, which moved to Tower Grove Park in 2018, now draws tens of thousands.

World War I Weekend

When Noon-4 p.m. Oct. 8, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 9, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 10 • Where Jefferson Barracks Park, 345 North Road West • How much Free • More info stlouiscountymo.gov

Stroll through military camps and listen as reenactors representing troops from the United States, British, Canadian, French and German armies discuss their uniforms, weapons and equipment. Battle reenactments will take place Saturdays and Sundays, and concessions are available.

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