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Festival of Nations to celebrate 'grand finale' event Aug. 28 at 9 Mile Garden

Festival of Nations to celebrate 'grand finale' event Aug. 28 at 9 Mile Garden

2019 Festival of Nations

Festival goers crowd the walkway during the International Institute's 2019 Festival of Nations at Tower Grove Park in St. Louis Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019. Organizers said this was the 19th annual festival of multicultural sights and sounds of the St. Louis region. Photo by Sid Hastings

The Festival of Nations will look a little different this year, with a “grand finale” event of gift and craft booths, food trucks and entertainment taking place 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Aug. 28 at 9 Mile Garden.

The hosting International Institute pivoted to online offerings last year and this year to celebrate the Festival of Nations. This summer included a weekly speaker series, pop-up dinners on the institute’s parking lot at 3401 Arsenal Street, and monthly summer concert series. The next concert is Aug. 27 at Das Bevo.

Each August for nearly 20 years, the Festival of Nations has drawn about 125,000 visitors to Tower Grove Park. The event was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic, and park officials learned Monday from a Post-Dispatch reporter that it will not take place there this year.

“We look forward to welcoming them back next year,” said park spokesman David Lauber, adding that the park had a provision to host the festival regardless of construction happening now in the eastern end of the park.

Brian Hardesty, managing partner of 9 Mile Garden, said the 2-acre Affton food truck park keeps its crowds to about 800 people; the crowd for the "grand finale" event would be smaller because vendors and entertainers will occupy more space. Hardesty said organizers are making a plan to regulate capacity.

Arrey Obenson, who in February became the International Institute's president and chief executive officer, did not return a phone call seeking comment on Monday.

International Institue Board Chair Arandim Kar tweeted Monday: "The culminating event referenced is an effort to have a smaller, safer in-person event that could include established food offerings along with some additional cultural offerings. The Festival intends to return to @TowerGrovePark next year, subject to the health/safety situation."

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