International Funtastical

Tower Grove celebrates

Old St. Louis: You are now home to thousands of people from Bosnia, Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa and everywhere else. It really is a small world after all -- just like all those Disney dolls sang -- and it'll all cram into Tower Grove Park (4256 Magnolia Avenue) Saturday and Sunday (July 23 and 24) for the free Festival of Nations. Presented by the International Institute Saint Louis to celebrate the increasingly polyglot culture of the city, this annual event offers all the baklava and kebabs any cosmopolitan street-food connoisseur could hope for. But the fest isn't just about the more than 30 booths of nosh: You can get your Ethiopian eskista on at the Forest Stage (11:30 a.m. Saturday), learn to dance the flamenco at the Village Green (4:30 p.m. Saturday), try your hand at a Chinese calligraphy workshop at the Cultural Kaleidoscope (4 p.m. Sunday) and thrill to the action of the international sports demonstrations at the World Sports Meadow all weekend. And don't forget the Parade of Nations! It kicks off the whole festival when it heads north toward the park on South Grand Boulevard (beginning at Utah Street) at 10 a.m. on Saturday. To find out more about the schedule of performances and the fest's free shuttles, call 314-773-9090 or see www.iistl.org/events/festival.asp. -- Jason Toon

Ol' Henry
Henry Shaw's big birthday

SUN 7/24

Last time anyone threw you a birthday party, were organ grinders and stilt walkers in attendance? Thought not. Well, you weren't born 205 years ago, either. Henry Shaw, however, was. The Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard; 314-577-9400) honors its English-born founder's birthday by waiving admission fees all day long on this commemorative occasion -- as well as having the aforementioned grinders of organs and looong-legged walkers, plus other children's attractions, on site to help celebrate. Additionally, Trailnet sponsors a "Petal Power" family bike ride, beginning at 10 a.m., from the garden to neighboring Tower Grove Park to tie in with the great man's birthday bash (visit www.earthsharemo.org for further information). -- Alex Weir

Visions of Hope
The History Museum's new film series

Sadly, if your ancestors endured the Middle Passage, then genealogy may not be for you. There is little to no possibility of learning your ancestors' true names, the language they spoke or even where they were from. Any hope for a semblance of a family tree seems futile. The Language You Cry In -- a film shown on Thursday, July 21, to begin the Missouri Historical Society's month-long "Visions of Africa" film series -- deals with this issue. It tells the story of how 60 years of research surrounding an African folk song helped to reunite a family; the documentary is both inspiring and heartbreaking all at once. Additionally, three other films -- Cry Freedom, Sankofa and Zan Boko -- will each be shown at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue) over the course of the following three Thursdays. All of the films screen at 7 p.m. and are free, but reservations are required; call 314-361-9017 for more information.-- Guy Gray

Pause That Refreshes

FRI 7/22

Getting out of town on a Friday night can be tough; the Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park (314-721-0072 or www.slam.org) offers a very nice simulacrum of a country getaway with the American Notes Series. Ann Haubrich reads the works of Thoreau, Whitman and Emerson while Marc Rennard provides musical accompaniment, and while you enjoy the landscape paintings of the Hudson River School. Ah, art, music, literature, beauty: It's a mental vacation. American Notes is free and begins at 5:30 p.m. in Gallery 212. -- Paul Friswold

 
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