Do you watch those travel shows on PBS where the tourists and their camera crews go to these wonderfully worldly and dangerous places? You know, they're always eating bugs for dinner as ferocious animals look on, and they're usually sleeping outside in the sweltering heat -- those trips can't be as enjoyable as the onscreen adventurers make them out to be. If you like your international fun a little more comfortable and a lot closer to home, visit the southeast corner of Tower Grove Park (near the intersection of Arsenal Street and Grand Boulevard) from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 24, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 25, for the International Institute's Festival of Nations. What's cool about this festival (in addition to the fact that it's held beneath shade trees) is that it specifically celebrates the ethnic diversity we have around us every day in St. Louis. Start your Saturday at 10 a.m. by watching the Parade of Nations travel along Grand, then go ahead and follow it into the park. Dance performances and lessons, concerts, crafts, and food await you, and so does an international petting zoo! You know, petting animals is much nicer than hiding from them. For more information, visit www.iistl.org. -- Alison Sieloff
Meet me in St. Louis? No, meet me at Kiener Plaza!
Athletic shoes, kicks, sneakers: Call them what you will, but they've somehow gone from being mere tootsie-protectors to social signifiers and artifacts of cutting-edge design. In fact, there now exists a class of artist that works entirely in the medium of shoe. The Sneaker Pimps 2004 Tour (www.sneakerpimpsusa.com) presents the fruits of these cobblers' labor; hundreds of examples of rare, vintage and limited-edition sneakers that have been modified by everything from celebrity signatures to full-on paint jobs fill the exhibit space in the old Art Coop location (1520 Washington Avenue, on the seventh floor) from the 8 p.m. opening reception on Friday, July 23, through Sunday, July 25. Admission is free, and in addition to live DJs and b-boy performances, Friday night will feature live sneaker customization by local artists. -- Paul Friswold
Steamed Hams Here Come gather 'round the table
Right now the clammy air -- which is 90 percent evaporated river water and catfish urine -- isn't fit for consumption, so don't go outside. Instead, burrow underground in cool comfort to St. Mark's Episcopal Church's fellowship hall at 4712 Clifton Avenue. The Washington Avenue Players Project, an innovative urban theater group, holds its trivia fundraiser there at 7 p.m. to benefit its 2004-2005 season. All questions pertain to the arts, so you cultured types with no knowledge of sports actually have a shot at a perfect score. Refreshments are available, or bring your own (absinthe is ideal for an arts-oriented trivia night). Rally your team of six to ten geniuses beforehand or show up alone; the W.A.P.P. promises that enough players will be on hand for last-minute team assembly. It's $10 per player, playa, and if you have questions (or want to reserve a table), call 314-412-5107 or visit www.thewapp.com. -- John Goddard
Not only is the City of St. Louis Parks and Recreation Department providing a free, outdoor screening of Meet Me in St. Louis at 8:45 p.m. at Kiener Plaza (Seventh and Market streets), it's also bringing in the "Rec on Wheels" mobile recreation unit. The RoW is stocked with games and sporting goods galore, so you can have a good time at Kiener after hours even if you pass on the flick. Concessions will be available for purchase, and you can call 314-436-6500 for more info, including the name of next week's movie (Grease is the word, friends). -- Paul Friswold