In some cultures royalty is hereditary. For the first annual Cheesefest, though, royalty is chosen by meritocracy. Prove yourself fit to rule by guessing the number of cheeseballs in the container in question and you will be given the scepter and crowned King or Queen of Cheesefest.
Some are feta-ed to rule, but for those of you who aren't chosen to be bleu bloods, we're still certain that Cheesefest will have more fun than Swiss has holes. This fundraiser for Shriners Hospital will feature cheese samples from local importer Swiss-American. Given S-A's international reputation, there will probably be cheese from all over the world: cheeses of England, cheeses of France and even cheeses of Nazareth. To go with this smorgasbord of cheese will be wine tastings from noted Missouri wineries and a selection of fromage-friendly side dishes such as cheese pizza, cheese ravioli and Hank's cheesecake.
But you've got cheddar things to do than just eat all night. So Cheesefest features other entertainment, such as the mouse races starting after 7 p.m. If you think that only cruel Muensters would make mice run around, there's Gouda news for you: There will also be live music from the Baker-McLaren band and DJ Silver will be spinning tunes after 10:30 p.m. (Rumors that he will be Brie-styling were unconfirmed at press time.)
Finally, a silent auction will take place, so you have a chance to pick up gifts for almost (Monterey) jack squat. Cheesefest takes place from 5 p.m. to midnight at the South Broadway Athletic Club (2301 South Seventh Street). Tickets are $20-$25 and can be purchased by calling 314-446-2020. -- Niles Baranowski
Growing up in their St. Louis neighborhood, brothers Steve and George Whitlow became known as "the Rush Brothers." The siblings weren't selling amyl nitrate; they were learning such Rush songs as "Working Man" and "The Temples of Syrinx" on guitar and bass, respectively. In adulthood, joined by Neil Peart fanatic Michael Ramsey (and current guitarist Corey Nelson, who replaced Steve), they became Thunderhead: A Tribute to Rush, the latest in a never-ending series of tribute bands to hit the stage at Pop's (1403 Mississippi Avenue in Sauget, Illinois; 9 p.m.; $10; 314-241-1888). Does George jam out on a fretless Steinberger bass like his idol Geddy Lee? Find out when the band does its meticulous covers of "Xanadu," "Subdivisions" and yes, KSHE 95 dudes, "Tom Sawyer," too. -- Byron Kerman
Two for 6/8...
Strap on the lederhosen, put a long feather in your cap, and don some bright-orange kneesocks, while you're at it. Strassenfest has nothing on the St. Louis Metro Polka Club's fourteenth annual Thanksgiving Weekend Polka Festival. The Marriott Pavilion downtown (One Broadway) is ground zero for the wheezy din of many, many accordions on Friday, November 28, and Saturday, November 29, from noon to midnight, and again on Sunday, November 30, from noon to 6 p.m. (That's not counting Sunday's polka mass for the worshippin' types at 10:30 a.m.). Tickets are $5-$14. Full weekend passes (because no one can stop at just one day of polka) and more information can be had by calling 314-846-8906. -- John Goddard
History could have been kinder to the sculptor Medardo Rosso. An Italian contemporary of Auguste Rodin, Rosso (1858-1928) was arguably the more experimental sculptor, emphasizing the art-making process in stark, expressive forms -- though Rodin often gets credit for originating the approach. Rosso also exhibited wax and plaster casts as finished works, and he broke off his friendship with Rodin, whom he accused of "borrowing" his technique.
Medardo Rosso: Second Impressions, a major survey of the artist's works on view at Forest Park's Saint Louis Art Museum through February 15, 2004, permits a re-examination of Rosso's importance. Call 314-721-0072 or visit www.slam.org for more on the free show. -- Ivy Cooper