"We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams." ~Jimmy Carter
Yesterday afternoon we braved the humidity and crowds to head over to Tower Grove Park for our favorite festival of the year, Festival of Nations. The festival is put on by the International Institute and features food and performances from nearly 40 countries and 70 different ethnic groups here in St. Louis.
This festival has it all: food, shopping, music, dancing, and did I mention the food?! I love this festival for so many reasons; it's the ultimate stay-cation. When we travel we seek to experience other cultures through their food, and there isn't any other time I can think of where you have the opportunity to sample dishes from Senegalese to Eritrean, and Turkish to Bulgarian in one afternoon. This year we arrived hungry and started with the food. We sampled empanadas from the Argentine booth (OMG - YUM!), pad tai and fresh coconuts from the Thai booth, borek from one of the Turkish booth, and samsoas from the Ethiopian booth.
After tasting our way through the world, we watched some of the cultural performances before heading over to the bazaar to do some browsing and early holiday shopping. I love the bazaar almost as much as the food, there are some great items for sale and I love chatting with all of the sellers.
Also available at the festival are calligraphy lessons, henna art, and arts and crafts for children. The Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis is also in this area providing information about many of the religions around the world. You can definitely make a full day or simply spend a few hours at Festival of Nations.
Despite the heat and humidity, the tall gorgeous trees within the park provide some respite. There are plenty of spaces to hang your hammock or lay down a picnic blanket under the shade and make a day out of the festival.
- Bring cash! Most of the food vendors, along with some of bazaar booths, are cash only. There are 3 ATMs located throughout the fest but the lines are long and either depending on your bank (or the connection), it seems to take a varying amount of time for the machine to release your cash.
- If you need an ATM, use the one by the Irish booth of the World Bazaar, it always seemed to have little to no wait.
- Bring water!
- At the food booths - try something new you've never eaten!
- Shuttles are available for those who have to park far away. The map is available on the website.
Tower Grove Park is a complete gem within this city and a wonderful place to spend a leisurely afternoon. I would encourage everyone in town to check out the festival while it's still going on!
Sincerely, local menagerie