Happy (belated) 4th of July! I hope you all had wonderful holiday weekends.
I spent the early years of my life living in Sweden, and my mom is from South Korea, so America’s Independence Day was never a big celebration for my family when I was growing up. I’ve spent all of my summers on a lake in Northern Michigan (where I now live permanently). The 4th of July meant we’d have two of my aunts over for dinner on our porch, and then we’d sit on the dock and watch the small fireworks show across the lake. I never really experienced the intense patriotism normally associated with the holiday – until this year!
Last Friday and Saturday, I attended Fair St. Louis, America’s Biggest Birthday Party! Fair STL is a huge 3-day celebration (we’re talking about 125,000 people here) on Art Hill, the hill outside of the St. Louis Art Museum in Forest Park (in previous years, it’s also been held under the Arch). At the base of the hill resides a huge stage. Behind the stage is the beautiful basin, full of fountains and lights. Visitors bring lawn chairs or blankets (or neither) and sprawl out across the massive hillside. There are countless food vendors, with everything from curly fries and funnel cakes to kobe beef sliders and ahi tuna.
The fair includes a number of events, including a zipline and a stunt bicyclist. It also includes several ceremonies honoring our veterans and our troops, including the awarding of a mortgage-free home to a veteran and his family (I thought this was pretty cool!). The main attractions, however, are the concerts. Fair STL includes some pretty big names, like American Authors, Blondie, and Kool & The Gang – and the entire event is free. “Free” is a very important word when you’re a college student. It’s almost as though our ears are programmed to perk up when we hear the word.
I was particularly excited because one of the bands performing was The Mowgli’s, one of my absolute favorites. I had bought tickets to see them last April but due to an unfortunately timed case of strep, I was unable to attend the show. Then I found out I would have a second chance! The band went on at 3pm on Friday. I arrived slightly behind schedule – only 3 hours early instead of my planned 4. I wanted to make sure I could stake out a spot front and center – which is exactly where I remained for about 6 hours until Noah Guthrie, The Mowgli’s, and American Authors had all finished performing.
It was incredible.
The Mowgli’s played all of my favorite songs, and one of their guitarists even gave me his setlist after the show. Though I attend many a concert (this is a bit of an understatement…see my last post), I’ve never been front row before. After this, I don’t think I can ever go back to being in the middle of the crowd.
…but that’s exactly what I did on Saturday. Saturday’s lineup was fun to listen to, but I didn’t feel the need to fight to the front of the audience. A few friends and I grabbed some blankets and found a spot about halfway up the hill where we spent the entire day listening to different bands, eating ridiculously unhealthy but incredibly delicious fair food, and, at the end, watching the fireworks with 125,000 compatriots.
I absolutely loved the energy and the spirit of the fair and it is definitely an experience worth having if you ever find yourself in St. Louis for the summer!