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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fall Festivals Show Neighborhoods on the Rise

Three fall street festivals are putting burgeoning business districts on display. Weather permitting, they're bound to show St. Louisans a trio of amazingly transformed neighborhoods.

Grove Fest
Saturday, September 19, 2009
4:00 - 10ish
Now in its fourth year, Grove Fest is a multi-block showing of the food, culture, and nightlife of the revived Grove District along Manchester in Forest Park Southeast. The course of this neighborhood over the past four years has been incredible. Anyone who has followed the Twitter updates of the Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corp. (WUMCRC) knows that crime has decreased for nine consecutive years in this onetime no-man's-land and that major infrastructural improvements are on the way (new streetscapes, some mysterious but apparently groundbreaking lighting experiment in the neighborhood [again, see Twitter], replaced planters). I was surprised at the turnout at the first year's festival, in 2005, when I lived in the neighborhood. I'm sure the festival has only grown since then.

Street Fest (Midtown Alley)
Saturday, September 26, 2009
4:00 - 11:00
As a lowly SLU student unwilling (and unable--let's be honest) to purchase a semester parking pass, Locust Street and its free-to-park intersecting streets were no strangers to me. Even though I observed a relatively intact business district along the old Automotive Row, I would never have predicted the quick rise of this once quiet stretch (which also includes Olive Street). "Midtown Alley", the new name for the area, is now home to a clothing store (Anatomy of Style), an art deco ice cream parlor (Fountain on Locust), and numerous eateries and nightlife options.

Street Fest is in its first year, so make sure you show up to support it. According to the website:

The Midtown Alley is not an “average” neighborhood … and this will not be an “average” street fair. The event is being styled as part street-party / part music fest/ part art extravaganza, with an urban/industrial theme; a direct nod to the history and location of Midtown Alley.

Sounds cool to me!

Morgan Ford in Motion
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Noon - 9:00

Another inaugural event, Morgan Ford in Motion celebrates the progress of this human-scaled business district in Tower Grove South. It's hard to believe that a decade ago, A&M Cyclery at Arsenal and Morgan Ford seemed a strange holdout on a strip known only for its busy 7-11. Now, the strip is being declared "the New South Grand" by neighborhood residents. With its own independent grocery store, locavore cafe, furniture store, and cool bike rack/sculptures (in addition to some notable watering holes), who's to doubt that claim? The Post-Dispatch agrees, calling it one of St. Louis's "Hip 'Hoods".

As with Street Fest, make sure you show up to make sure this fledgling festival earns enough moolah to make next year's even better!

And, with all three, make sure to enjoy and return to the local businesses that lend these neighborhoods so much character and identity!

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