Call something "African," and you've covered the possibilities of more than 30 countries surrounded by two oceans and two seas. You're promised that kind of variety at the twelfth annual St. Louis African Arts Festival, May 23-26 at the World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park.
This year's theme is "Back to Our Musical Roots: The Influence of Africa On Music," which spotlights the genres of jazz, rhythm & blues, gospel, reggae, blues and hip-hop.
Activities begin with a marketplace preview from 6-10 p.m. Friday, May 23, and continue from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, May 24; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday, May 25; and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday, May 26. Admission is free.
The festival celebrates African traditions brought to other parts of the world. You'll find artifacts, clothing, jewelry, cultural demonstrations, educational forums, hands-on activities and food. Take the St. Louis Art Museum's African-arts tour, or visit the children's village, featuring storytelling and other activities for youngsters.
The St. Louis Public Library's Schlafly Branch, 225 North Euclid Avenue, will present a free film festival in conjunction with the arts fest. Films unspool at the library nonstop from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 2-5 p.m. Sunday. 314-935-5645. -- Thomas R. Raber
Drag show at Gateway Raceway
Local teenagers unable to control their speeding gather at Gateway International Raceway (700 Raceway Bou-levard in Sauget, Illinois) for the regular "test and tune," a chance to drag their cars against those of like-minded leadfeet. This Friday, the informal drag races take on a rave atmosphere: The races begin at midnight (early Saturday morning, that is), and go on all night. It's not just the teens who're eager to drag it out, though. Anyone at all can get a ticket in a speed trap and pull slowly away from Smoky, seething with anger. Vent that rage at Gateway in front of 500 fans. Pretend you're Big Daddy Don Garlits for $15 (for five or six runs), or just watch for $8 (www.gatewayraceway. com, 618-482-2400). -- Byron Kerman