Final plans for Fair St. Louis are taking shape as the event moves to Forest Park this weekend for the first time in its 34-year history.
The park has been a busy scene this week as work crews prepare stages, concession stands, canopy tents, and generators for the event that organizers expect to draw 35,000 to 50,000 visitors each day. The weekend’s July Fourth celebrations will include a parade, 20 free concerts, nightly fireworks displays and other entertainment.
Fair St. Louis has been moved from the Gateway Arch grounds this year as redevelopment continues on the CityArchRiver project.
“It’s going to be a once-in-a-generation thing,” said Jeff Rainford, chief of staff for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, who has lived in St. Louis his entire life.
“I love the Riverfront and eventually Fair St. Louis will return to the Riverfront … but this is a venue that almost none of us have experienced in this manner before and that’s why I say it’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity for all of us.”
Fair St. Louis this year is expected to be one of the largest events held in Forest Park since the 1904 World’s Fair, Rainford said.
A large measure of success for this year’s event will be how well parking is handled. Because of the new venue, organizers have hired a traffic consultant to work with local experts and officials to create a plan for safety and convenience, said Fair St. Louis Executive Director Lori Thaman.
According to Thaman, about 80 percent of roughly 22,000 parking spaces in the park will be free or offered at reduced fees ranging from $10-$15.
“The good thing is that we did spend time looking at other events in the park and determining what did and did not work and we’ve modeled our traffic plan accordingly,” she said.
Over the weekend dozens of city blocks around the park will be closed during the event. Premium parking spots inside Forest Park will cost $30 and nearby parking at the St. Louis Zoo has been raised to $30 for non-members.
Fairgoers also will be able to park at about 20 free Park-and-Ride lots at nearby MetroLink stations. More information on driving routes, parking and transportation alternatives can be found at www.fairsaintlouis.org.