Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sunday Senspiration: Festival Fever

Summer is a time for festivals, and festivals are always a bottomless buffet for the senses. You soak in sights, sounds, and smells from every direction. You get comfortable in the fresh prickly grass in the shade on a hot sunny day or walk around from booth to booth ogling and touching hand-crafted goods from local vendors. And there’s never a lack of drinks, eats, and treats to sip and savor.  

In the St. Louis area there are tons of great festivals, always more than I can possibly attend. Some of my favorites this summer have been the Fiesta in Florissant in June, presented by Hispanic Festival, Inc., and the International Institute’s Festivalof Nations in Tower Grove Park just this weekend. The Fiesta in Florissant celebrates Hispanic cultures, and the Festival of Nations showcases the traditions of countries all over the world. Both of these festivals feature live music and dance. Within half an hour at the Festival of Nations, I saw Irish dance, salsa, and the incredible all-male teen step group Gentlemen of Vision.

Of course food is a major highlight at these festivals. At the Fiesta in Florissant, a friend from Bolivia suggested I try the salteñas. Bolivian salteñas are slightly sweet pastries filled with a savory chicken stew, a bit like baked empanadas. They were simply delicious, and I was thrilled to find the same vendor at the Festival of Nations yesterday. Perhaps even more exciting than the food, vendor booths at both of these festivals were an almost overstimulating endless rainbow of clothing, jewelry, housewares, instruments, art and more.

I also love traveling for a festival. Last weekend we road-tripped down to Georgia for Wildwood Revival, a 3-day music festival on a farm. Folk musicians performed in an open-air barn lit by thousands of twinkle lights. I finally heard Shakey Graves perform Dearly Departed live, which I’ve been eagerly awaiting since a concert was rained out last summer. Wildwood is such a small intimate festival that we could get right up to the stage to see shows, but it was also fun to listen as we wandered around the farm. We hung out on hay bales when kids weren’t climbing them. We sampled local honey and strawberry habanero soda. One vendor was giving out giant slices of a watermelon he had bought from a roadside stand. We bought some beautiful personalized leather goods from In Blue Handmade. It was a hot weekend in Georgia, so I was excited to see a cart selling Hip Pops, locally made ice pops in a plethora of sassy flavors like Mama Said Choc You Out.

Festival-going in the summer has been fun, and luckily festivals abound in the fall as well. I’m looking forward to more. What are some of your favorite festivals in St. Louis or elsewhere?

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