Summer Wonders

You won't want to miss these hot summer events

Tower Grove Park — the "Victorian Gem" of St. Louis — is the smaller, cooler sibling of Forest Park. Just as lush as Forest Park, Tower Grove reflects the diversity of its neighborhood as it is home to kickball, hurling and vintage baseball teams, and rests beside the cafés and shops at Grand Boulevard and Arsenal Street. And on July 22 and 23 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., the park is home to one of our favorite events, the Festival of Nations. Two reasons to go to the free festival are the traditional food and the traditional music of all the cultures that make up polyglot St. Louis. From Bosnian to Filipino to Ethiopian, German to Scottish, French to Mexican, you'll eat food new to your palate and groove to beats new to your soul.

Also in Tower Grove every Saturday morning through October 12 is the newest of St. Louis' many farmer's markets. Stocking up on produce at local markets is another great perk of living in this city; the food you buy didn't make a transcontinental flight to get to you — it's likely grown and ripened 45 minutes away from your table. Farmer's markets are all over, so ask around; besides the new Tower Grove Market and the old standby Soulard Market, there are two others of note. The Clayton Market on Central Avenue between Forsyth Boulevard and Maryland Avenue opens every Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., and serves a relatively inexpensive organic breakfast. The Maplewood Market opens shop each Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Schlafly Bottleworks (7260 Southwest Avenue) parking lot. Every second Wednesday is SLOWednesday, where farmers share their food and their knowledge.

Better Than Ezra's back. Alert the mayor!
Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Better Than Ezra's back. Alert the mayor!
Hey, here’s somthing that happens more often than 
Better Than Ezra concerts.
Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Hey, here’s somthing that happens more often than Better Than Ezra concerts.

Defining the summertime shutdown are two Labor Day parties: First is the Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden, likely the only place you can see sumo wrestling in St. Louis. Stay for taiko drumming (it shakes the gods from the sky), green-tea ice cream, martial-arts demonstrations and Zen gardening. It will cost you $10, and it's open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. Then head back downtown as the Big Muddy Blues Festival takes over Laclede's Landing. Besides the national blues acts, the five stages of soul-soothing music, the crowd of happy people, and the food and drink, the best part about this music festival is that it's free. This year's headliners are The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Shemekia Copeland, and you can also see guys with names like Jimmy "Duck" Holmes and Eddie Cotton and the Mississippi Cotton Club. September's still a long way from now, so the exact schedule remains to be seen, but the festival spreads out from September 1 through 3, pretty much all day; dial up www.lacledeslanding .org for updates.

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