Saintoberfest

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St. Louis isn't the national goto place for anything I can think of, the way Nashville is for music, Indy for the car race, Louisville for the horse race, Mardi Gras for N.O., Gambling for Vegas, etc. We have baseball, but so do a lot of cities. And it can go South on you some years. We used to have the biggest 4th of July celebration. But then Washington and others woke up and decided they were the rightful heirs to the biggest birthday party on that date.

October is so nice here -- why don't we brand St. Louis as the national goto place a month-long, metro-wide, celebration of October. Soulard could be a main site, but I would try to make the Arch and Kiener Plaza the epicenter. And give it a distinct name -- such as Saintoberfest, so there is no question where it is, and so it can't move to Denver. We would have to add some unique things -- maybe involving the rivers or the Arch, or levees, or something unique to this place that would attract tourists. Or take advantage of our little used domed stadium.

Saintoberfest could be the lead national October festival centered here -- as Mardi Gras is for New Orleans. It would need its own graphic symbol featuring the Gateway Arch of course, and Clydesdales?. And we'd need to start some traditions that gets everyone involved. Like shorts with suspenders, so it looks like we're wearing lederhosen? (Would the suspenders need that horizontal piece? What is that for, anyway?)

We would have beer of course, but I don't think we would have to follow every German tradition necessarily. We make up our own. But something, some new tradition, would have to be over-the-top, like, I don't know, beer from a hose -- you tell me. Bicycle demolition figure 8 race. Running with the Streakers. An anti-athletic contest to win the gigantic Saintoberfest Cup. A giant temporary______ (fill in the blank) downtown. World's largest drone enthusiast gathering and demotion derby. Something where you have to come here to experience it, then go back to _____ and tell your friends. Maybe City Museum has some ideas.

Anyway -- just a thought.
Would be great but I feel like that kind of thing has to evolve organically over time. Otherwise it looks like a gimmick/marketing ploy. At least we have the #2 Mardi Gras?
I think organic means steps done one at a time by people. What is step one? The name? I think things like the Kentucky Derby were done in big steps by people with vision.


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Could LouFest be organically growing into the next big thing with regards to music festivals?

I'd like to see this uniquely STL event be based on music, then add in the unique STL flavor. We have a great central location, great places to hold festivals and a unique and underrated City. Hell, if Memphis can create a great festival like Memphis In May, why can't a city over double the size do a way better event??!
To really make it great we should, I think, make sure it is and remains free and relatively open. Music should surely play a part, but I'd prefer it weren't the only part. I don't think the world needs one more rock/folk/blues/progapaloozathon style festival. And we have other things to offer. We should definitely celebrate our quite substantial beer chops. I like the Wally Wharton shorts aspect. I think we could leave out the Lederhosen implication and just go for our own jolly vibe. Maybe include some kind of mild ritual shaming for anyone who wears long pants to the thing. Of course, Bill McClellan suggested a Wally Wharton Society and a Summer Solstice celebration involving everyone clad in shorts. Suits and shorts, no less. He's been banging that drum for years. (It's a good beat, actually. Kind of a little bit of a polka, maybe, but nice. Beery. Maybe it sways into a little more of a slow waltz as the night goes on. Or possibly something in five.) Anyway . . .

I like the idea. It's solid. Maybe make it a kind of expanded super-Bevo days. Make sure there are lots of buskers and some bona-fide carnival rides. Make it a little old fashioned. A bit more Midwestern and heartland nostalgic. Your drone demo derby and figure eight bike extravaganza sound like the right ideas: something for the hipsters and techies. Something slightly improper and corn-doggety county fair like. Something not too serious, but seriously fun. Yeah, it needs to be built up over time. But October is good. Usually a nice time of year as long as it's not too wet.
I don't think it should be free, but it should be modestly priced. 10-15 dollars would be very reasonable.
My only suggestion is to make sure there is ample connectivity. I've talked to a lot of people who think St. Louis is really spread out and hard to visit for that reason. If you're considering a month long event across multiple neighborhoods/cities, maybe stay along popular bike or transit routes.
STLEnginerd wrote:
Sun Sep 17, 2017 6:37 am
I don't think it should be free, but it should be modestly priced. 10-15 dollars would be very reasonable.
Well, the beer shouldn't be free. And I can see there being concerts that require a ticket. But if you want a general admission for the whole thing you lost my vote right there. This needs to be a festival. A celebration. The "parade" should be free. And there should be free music to showcase what we have. (And we have a lot.) If we can have free concerts in every park in town all summer long we can keep the center of this festival free.
IMHO St. Louis has plenty of free events. (Fair St. Louis, Mardi Gras, Shakespeare in the Park, etc...)

Also Soulard Ocktoberfest, Heritage Fest, Loufest, and the Missouri State Fair all charge admission. Keep it modest and discounted for children but no need for it to be free. Especially if the intent is to grow it into a signature multi-day festival that will draw people from around the country.
STLEnginerd wrote:
Mon Sep 18, 2017 7:58 am
IMHO St. Louis has plenty of free events. (Fair St. Louis, Mardi Gras, Shakespeare in the Park, etc...)

Also Soulard Ocktoberfest, Heritage Fest, Loufest, and the Missouri State Fair all charge admission. Keep it modest and discounted for children but no need for it to be free. Especially if the intent is to grow it into a signature multi-day festival that will draw people from around the country.
It's not about the number of free events. It's the principle of the thing. If this is THE big event it needs to be accessible to everyone, to have something for everyone. In fact, I think it needs to be made BY everyone. It needs to be US. If you make the whole thing pay to play then you lose that. I'm not saying that none of it can be ticketed. But it shouldn't be some isolated thing hiding behind fences and wristbands. It should be open and inviting. It should be for everyone. I suppose it may well be that we just disagree about this. But it was my impression that what we want here is the single big draw to boost the region nationally, not another middling festival for the hipster elite. If you want it to be big you have to get everyone involved. I just don't see how you do that if you have to pay to get in. I think we can make the core of the event free, and thus we really should. That's how you get folks involved. Especially around here. As you said, there are already a ton of free events. If this one has a ticket price I don't see how it competes with everything else. I don't see what draw it has; what makes it special. You run the risk of becoming one more music or film or whatever festival in a world awash in them. You get a few big names you might sell a hundred thousand passes. Maybe. But I don't think that's what we want here. We want to stand out, not blend in. We want this to be about us, not acts imported from the coast. This should say St. Louis, not wannabe hipster college town. Our big stuff is free. That's kind of one of the local selling points. That part works. Best not to change it. If you want to sell something sell tickets to a specialty part of the event: to a party, to a ball, to a private concert. Sell VIP passes. Sell whatever you like. But don't close the whole thing down. We want this to be a community event: by the community for the community. If it's going to work it's going to have to start organic and local. Thus small. And free. And it should grow organically from us. So most of it should stay free. Forever. Or at least as long as there's a town here going by the name of St. Louis.
^Not to be a nay sayer but why do it then. Why not just double down on Fair St. Louis and be done with it. Make Fair St. Louis last a week instead of 4 days. Seems easier than organizing and marketing a whole new festival which if successful will likely displace many of the fee to enter ones using what will either be public or philanthropic dollars which could be spent elsewhere. It is at least cause for some skepticism.

I thought the idea was to attract more people from outside the metro to come to St. Louis and thereby extract their dollars for our own economic benefit. Jeff Bezos said when he bought the Washington Post that if you make people pay they will pay as long as you made them feel they were getting good value for their dollar. (Paraphrased). I don't think what I described was hipsterish either. I was thinking something more wholesome and family friendly. I have a child now so I don't go for the hipster schtick to much anymore. The Missouri state fair is in freaking Centralia and what do they charge to get in. I'll wager they don't draw a lot of hipsters either...

If Fair St. Louis added a bunch more rides, some livestock and agriculture displays, local crafts and baking competitions, some trades show booths, some better concert headliners although I think they do pretty decently on this, an open stage for local bands and musicians to perform a rotating 1 hr set, maybe a rodeo, a world Fairesque series of booths hosted by local immigrant communities displaying and selling cultural treats and iconography, regional university competition teams (im thinking MST solar car team but sports are fine too 😀) a local beer wine and liquor tent (maybe one each), they would start to look like what I would like to see.

Drone races sound cool too. Do they still do the air show I missed the last few years. Basically I want so much stuff there that there is no way to go see it all in one day.
^edit state fair is in Sedalia not Centralia. My bad.
I knew you meant Sedalia anyway. Sorry. Don't know what they charge. Never been. I'd have assumed it was free, but . . . maybe I'm wrong about that. The concerts probably aren't, but they're only a part of it.

Gary Kreie's idea was specficially capitalizing on October. The weather is usually more pleasant in October than July.

Yes, the idea is to bring people in from outside, but I rather thought it was also to do it organically, showcasing what we have. Making this us. And if you're going to make a festival big it needs to start with locals, I think. I believe New Orleans and Rio both started pretty local with their respective Shrovetide Fairs. And I believe both of them are at least in part open and free. I don't think Munich's Oktoberfest really started as a tourist thing with Lederhosen to draw in outsiders. It was just a harvest festival. And Lederhosen were just ordinary farmer clothes. At one point. And of course beer! We all love beer. Family friendly beer, of course. Or . . . well . . . we like to pretend we're German around here sometimes. Sort of. (Some of us are a little.)

The air show was canceled while the fair was in Forest Park. It's supposed to be back next summer.

Actually, maybe making it a fall festival starting with the balloon race might be a great idea. Make it a Labor Day event. Incorporate the Japanese Festival. Move the South Grand Festival of Nations to coincide. Move the air show. Close it out with lots and lots and lots of fireworks. And include lots of beer tasting and plenty of good music. And rides. And food. It'd be spread out all over town, but I'm not sure that would be a bad thing. Balloons, drone races, and bands at Forest Park. Food, drink, dance, and music of nations at Tower Grove. Beer and German music in front of Long School. Arts, crafts, and flea market, food stalls, and so forth all along Morganford from the park to Bevo. Air show downtown. And fireworks everywhere. Maybe a bike race to connect all locations? Or along some of the greenways? Maybe multiple stages? (Tour de St. Lou?) How you like them apples? Of course, we should really work Cahokia Mounds into it somehow. Maybe for the opening and closing ceremonies. And yes, it should probably last a week, or even a month, if it's a string of disconnected, but coordinated festivals. (Which might be cooler, actually. Something different every weekend for a month. Starts at Cahokia. Moves to Shaw's Garden. Moves to Forest Park for the aerial events and some music. Moves to Morganford for Carnival and Octoberfest grade stuff. (Did I forget to mention the rides? There should be rides. And we really do need a ferris wheel for this one. A big one.) And then moves downtown for the last huzzah. And the 'splodey parts. Best to have the 'splodey parts over the river, anyway.

On the other hand, maybe we already have this thing and we just need to market it better? And add the carnival and county fair stuff back in at Bevo Mill?

Who knows. But the more I think about the drone races the more I like them. They fit. We need drone races. Gary's right. And beer.
Ooh, you know what else would fit in nicely with drone races, balloon races, and bicycle races? A tricked out car show. A sort of cruising event where you parade your craft car past a judges stand for points and prizes. Make this a multi-modal extravaganza. I'd say work in trains somehow too, ideally.
To be honest, St. Louis has a lot of these events happening in September in the Balloon Glow / Race, Taste, LouFest, Art Fair, etc... All you need to do is work on marketing these events together and maybe add in a few additional items but the basic big events already happen really close together.
I like everyone's thinking here. I get it that July 4th is big, but I don't think our heritage would let us wrestle that away from the East Coast as the goto place for July fireworks. But an Octoberfest could. With our big river, German heritage, and Beer production, we are Munich on the Rhine, or whatever. As mentioned before, we have lots of things going on in September and October. I like the idea of starting out just by cataloging them and marketing the entire set of festivals and concerts under one metro-wide umbrella name. (And if your suburban town doesn't have an Octoberfest-like event, this might pressure you to create one.)

If you've ever been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, you find that many neighborhoods have their own local parades and costume balls around the metro in the month leading up to a few big finale events downtown at the end. If there was a Saintoberfest website, say, that at least rounded up and marketed dates, locations, and descriptions of what we already have going, that would go a long way to making St. Louis America's goto place for fall fun every weekend. (Eventually becoming international and surpassing the one in Munich. With "creative" marketing, I'm sure we could already find a way to declare ours is bigger than the one in Munich, but I can't see the angle just yet.) Maybe we get some attention by trying to set a new Guinness record for most people doing a simultaneous elbow bend beer gulp.

If we wanted a big culmination, ala Mardi Gras, downtown, we could end it all with ALL SAINTS DAY (day after Halloween), when all the merriment shuts down at midnight. Fall Saint's Day? All Saints (Louis) Day?

Would drones damage the Arch legs if the drone race did figure 8's around the legs? They're stainless steel for goodness sake.
Parking lots south of downtown would be a great place to set up some big themed tents like they have in Germany
For reasons of heritage, I really like the idea of having at least one big part of the Beer party within sight of Bevo Mill. We need to at least nod at Bevo Days. No love for the bike race, though? Or the tricked out car show? There are, I suppose, already numerous bike races and car shows about town, but is there a Tour de all the Greenways? And while the drones probably wouldn't hurt the arch I think the FAA would . . . um . . . let's just say the release would not be pretty. You could probably add it to all the brickwork we already have in town. For reasons of aviation history I like the idea of having it at Forest Park along with the balloon race. The FAA would probably be much more merciful. Besides, if this is a race those could be some REALLY suped up drones. Jet drones. Five hundred miles an hour burning JP-8. Afterburning drones. We might not be talking quad copters here. (Though, you know, there could be multiple classes. Just like the air races. Which were here once long long ago. At a field with some historical relationship to the balloon ascension grounds in Forest Park, though a bit further north and west.)
I don't have much to add other than this is a great idea. Brew in the Lou is also in October, put on by the Lutheran Schools in Francis Park.
I have such fond memories of the old neighborhood beer festivals; Oak Hill Day, Bevo Day, Hill Day, etc. It was such a treat getting a sip from my dad's beer bucket (although I could never understand how grown-ups could actually like the taste of the stuff). The smaller scale of the events back then was really special. When they grew too big, the rowdy drunks started to spoil the fun.