Mettle Fest: Got what it takes to tackle this summer's festivals? You will now.

Mettle Fest: Got what it takes to tackle this summer's festivals? You will now.
Dan Zettwoch

As you're considering which festivals to attend in St. Louis this time of year, it's easy to romanticize the experience — tasty eats, danceable jams, sudsy brews — but the reality is often much harsher. Heat and humidity make food less appealing. Throngs of people thwart getting lost in wild dance moves, and dehydration drains your beer buzz. It's not for nothing, though, because St. Louis boasts some of the biggest, brightest, most bad-ass food and music festivals in the Midwest. Instead of missing out, buckle down, quit the bitching and, braced with the following know-how, bask in the glow of this summer's best fests.

International Horseradish Festival in Collinsville, Illinois
Its not nature's most popular plant, but horseradish sure is a prized root on the other side of the river. Beginning Friday, June 1, through Sunday, June 3, the annual International Horseradish Festival held at Woodland Park (2 Pine Lake Road; Collinsville, Illinois) celebrates its versatility with a crop of activity. Young ladies can enter the Little Miss Horseradish Festival Pageant while their parents compete in an amateur recipe contest or bloody-mary contest. Meanwhile, horseradish lovers of all stripes can enjoy the craft village and the root derby (with, yes, derby cars carved from horseradish roots). But the star of the festival is the food, which includes deep-fried horseradish pickles, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches with horseradish, Mongolian barbecue with horseradish and more. Pro Tip: Pack a package of TUMS for your stomach and breath mints for the sake of your companions. For more information visit www.horseradishfestival.net.

IndiHop
Surprise, surprise! On Saturday, June 2, from noon to 6 p.m., Cherokee Street and the Grove nieghborhood are playing host to IndiHop, an event name that would be eye-roll inducing if it weren't so damn cool. Organized by the residents and businesses of both neighborhoods, IndiHop will feature more than 50 beers to sip via your complimentary IndiHop beer mug, as well as live music, street performers and food vendors. Pro Tip: Plan ahead for how to get home. With beer this good and people this silly, there's no way you won't be three sheets to the wind before dinnertime.

Twangfest St. Louis
Shimmy and sway to carefree banjo strumming, wild bluegrass and lonesome outlaw country at Twangfest St. Louis, from Wednesday, June 6, to Saturday, June 9. Hosted by KDHX (88.1 FM), performances for Twangfest are divided between two venues: the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill (6504 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-727-4444) and the Schlafly Tap Room (2100 Locust Street; 314-241-2337). Musicians performing over this four-day festival include Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three, Prairie Rehab, Pretty Little Empire, Kelly Hogan, Langhorne Slim and John Doe. Tickets range from $15 to $125. Pro Tip:Fit in among the fiddle-plucking crowd by wearing a plaid shirt and denim cut-offs or play it cool like Johnny Cash in all black — though the late-spring heat might make you regret it. For more information visit www.twangfest.com.

St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival
St. Louis' reputation as a beer capital was cemented a century ago by the likes of Griesedieck Brothers Brewery, Lemp Brewery, Falstaff Brewing Corporation and, oh yeah, Anheuser-Busch. From Friday, June 15, to Sunday, June 17, the annual St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival at Ballpark Village (323 South Broadway) celebrates the city's rich beer-swigging history by offering more than 75 beers from nineteen local brewers. Soak up suds from Schlafly Beer, Square One Brewery, Buffalo Brewing Company, Cathedral Square Brewery, Urban Chestnut Brewing Company and more and enjoy bits and bites from Companion, Harvest, Vin de Set, SqWires and LoRusso's Cucina. Pro Tip:The fest's convenient downtown location means that taking public transportation is a safe and easy option for those who want to get truly blitzed. There are four sessions in all, with one Friday, two on Saturday and one on Sunday. Tickets for each session are $30. For more information visit www.stlbrewfest.com.

Pride Fest 2012
Voted "Best Festival" in these very pages last year, St. Louis Pride Fest draws more than 80,000 revelers each year, making it the largest in the Midwest. Mosey on over to Tower Grove Park (4256 Magnolia Avenue; 314-771-2679) for festive follies, including live music, dancing, food and drink and handy-dandy giveaways like condoms and dental dams. The two-day festivities include a commitment ceremony on Saturday, June 23, at 3 p.m. and the official Pride parade on Sunday, June 24, at noon. Pro Tip: Party hard post-parade in Tower Grove Park or at any of the gay-friendly bars in the nearby Grove neighborhood. Or for an afternoon of inexpensive debauchery, bring a flask or pass out on a picnic blanket after a bottle of wine. For more information visit www.pridestl.org.

Fair Saint Louis and Celebrate St. Louis Summer Concerts
This year, Fair Saint Louis is partnering with Celebrate St. Louis for a summer concert series extravaganza. The former spans Wednesday, July 4, Friday, July 6 and Saturday, July 7, as bands Heart, Third Eye Blind and Dierks Bentley play free shows on the Arch grounds. The following week bands will congregate at Soldiers Memorial for another free collection of concerts, with bands Neon Trees, Michael Franti & Spearhead, the Offspring and Nelly performing throughout the series, which will run from Friday, July 13, to Saturday, July 21. Pro Tip: Though it should go without saying to bring sunscreen and bug spray, there really isn't much that will offer relief in the St. Louis humid July heat when cozying up next to 50,000 of your favorite neighbors. The silver lining is that Nelly's "Hot in Herre," will have added meaning. For more information visit www.fairsaintlouis.org.

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