Forest Park

Forest Park Forever president and executive director Lesley Hoffarth said public input will help guide future changes and upgrades at the city's most well-known green space.
Flickr |ChrisYunker

A new MetroLink station and improved bike lanes are among nine possible long-range strategies being considered to transform how people get around St. Louis’ Forest Park.

St. Louis officials and Forest Park Forever, a nonprofit group, reviewed the results of public input over the course of nine months, including 1,300 responses to an online survey and comments from open house meetings. They publicly presented the refined list of suggested improvements during an open house Thursday.

Bjorn Ranheim of The 442s warms up while awaiting a collaborator.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

When 15-year-old Caroline Luethy saw a lime-green piano in Forest Park, she was immediately taken by the chance to play in a lush setting.

Luethy, of Groton, Conn., approached the piano with a mix of anxiety and excitement. She sat down and started to improvise with chords, evoking a somber moment, like that of a movie soundtrack.

Forest Park turns 140 years old this year.
henskechristine | Flickr

St. Louisans have plenty to be proud of when it comes to Forest Park. In the summer, the park is bustling with musicals, plays, cool museums and many other recreational activities. Recently, the park was voted the best urban park in the United States by USA Today. It also made it onto a list of the nation’s best city parks, curated by Thrillist.

Nancy Anderson as Titania in "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
J. David Levy | Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

It has been a bloody two summers in Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park.

“The past two years have been a lot of death on stage,” said Rick Dildine, artistic and executive director of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. “There is a high body count. Henry IV, Henry V, Antony and Cleopatra … I wanted something that ended with marriage and happiness.”

Austin and Ryan Jacobs share the role of Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Tim Carter is with Ryan on the right. Carter plays the role of Oberan.
J. David Levy

“What fools these mortals be!” Puck famously utters in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

St. Louis audiences may be fooled in Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' production that lets the spritely Puck be two places at once.  The secret?  Puck is played by identical twins, Austin and Ryan Jacobs, transplants from Houston.

The brothers, who just graduated from Webster University, join us for our latest Cut & Past podcast to talk about sharing the role in the play and a childhood on the stage. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opens Friday in Forest Park.

Flo Rida
Flickr Creative Commons |Flo Rida Wild Ones Tour T-Mobile ROCK4G and Walmart Soundcheck

Fair St. Louis announced today that Lee Brice, Sammy Hagar and Flo Rida will headline Fair St. Louis this July Fourth weekend. The announcement confirms one headliner that was leaked earlier in the year and reveals two more. George Clinton's appearance on July 4 had also been disclosed previously.

Image from Forever: The Campaign for Forest Park's Future
Provided by Michael Eastman and Forest Park Forever

Forest Park Forever is celebrating its 30th anniversary by giving three artists $3,000 each.

The money is a stipend for three, three-week-long residencies in the park from May to September. Stephen Schenkenberg, the organization’s strategic communications director, says the project’s intended to answer the question:

“How can we celebrate in a way that the community ultimately gets something new, someone’s new interpretation or expression of what the park means?”

Charles stretches.
Mark Glenshaw

On December 29, Mark Glenshaw celebrated his 10th anniversary of monitoring a pair of Great Horned Owls in Forest Park. The amateur naturalist made his first appearance on “St. Louis on the Air” two years ago to introduce listeners to the pair he had dubbed Charles and Sarah. In April of this year he returned to report on the birth of the couple’s offspring, a pair of owlets whom he later named Harold and Grace. At that time he described the parents as the “Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt” of Great Horned Owls.

Runners pass the Confederate Monument in Forest Park.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Mayor Francis Slay wants a memorial to Confederate war dead out of Forest Park — a move that means the 101-year-old granite statue will likely head to storage.

Forest Park Forever president and executive director Lesley Hoffarth said public input will help guide future changes and upgrades at the city's most well-known green space.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Forest Park Forever wants to hear from the public about how people enter, get around and access attractions at the green space in the heart of the city.

Forest Park Forever and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis open a new outdoor playing area
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

There is now another spot in St. Louis for chess lovers to enjoy the game in the great outdoors.

Forest Park Forever has partnered with the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis on four outdoor, concrete tables near Steinberg Skating Rink.

The area is designed to attract more people to that section of the park throughout the year and expose more people, especially youngsters, to chess.

Hozier Loufest 2015
Jess Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

According to festival organizers, LouFest this year brought a record number of music fans to the event in Forest Park. Promoters estimated attendance for the weekend at roughly 50,000 people. Last year attendance was roughly 36,000. Though attendance was high, people pointed out things they hope will change next year.

Sarah sleeps.
Mark Glenshaw

Updated 5:20 p.m., Sept. 7 with news about Sarah’s passing

Amateur naturalist Mark Glenshaw on Monday reported that Sarah, a beloved Great Horned Owl in Forest Park, has died.

Glenshaw had followed the pair of mated Great Horned Owls for nearly 10 years.

Rendering of a marker at the I-64, Skinker Boulevard and Wells Drive entrance to the park.
SWT Design | Provided by Forest Park Forever

In response to a story about the markers project published two weeks ago, we’ve had thoughtful responses to the entrances-to-the-park issue. Some harkened back to Lawrence Halprin’s proposal for elaborate gates that was hooted down and abandoned in 2001; others expressed ideas about the current plan, created by SWT Design, St. Louis.

World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Visitors will have a new reason to love Forest Park in the coming years: a new interactive digital map.  Forest Park Forever’s Director of Strategic Communications Stephen Schenkenberg, 41, assures people the new map will provide an array of useful services for first timers and for those who think they know every inch of the park.

Entrances to Forest Park will be clearly marked.
Provided by Forest Park Forever

Call them entry markers or portals or entrances or doorways — call them by any of those names, just don’t call these in-the-works architectural structures planned to start appearing around Forest Park in the spring “gates.”

Why?  Almost 14 years ago a grand plan for elaborately designed ceremonial gates fell into an unceremonious heap.

Sarah Kellogg

Despite construction around Forest Park, Fair St. Louis officials say they are ready for the large crowds expected to attend this week’s event.

This is the second year Forest Park is hosting the three-day event after construction on the Arch grounds forced it to change locations.

Host Don Marsh speaks with Lesley Hoffarth, president and executive director of Forest Park Forever.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Since opening in 1876, Forest Park has been one of St. Louis’ go-to spots for the city’s most notable events, including the 1904 World’s Fair. With landmarks such as the Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Zoo and The Muny, the 1300-acre park has earned its reputation as “one of the most beautiful urban parks in the world.”

Mathias Gasteiger, German, 1871-1934; Hercules and the Hydra, 1921-30; bronze; 95 ½ x 77 x 56 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Funds given anonymously 1:1930
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The 15 year-long renovation of the St. Louis Art Museum has finally reached completion. Museum director Brent Benjamin said he hopes the completed sculpture garden will be as well received as the rest of the museum’s changes.

Leverage Dance Theater at Shakespeare Festival's House Stage
Nancy Fowler

Drama, passion and war are all part of this year’s Shakespeare Festival in Forest Park, as they have often been since 1997.

What’s new this summer is the addition of more local dancers, jazz artists, Latin musicians and a DJ (full list, below). You can see them on a new House Stage near the main stage, just prior to the production of the firey “Antony and Cleopatra.”

Before sunrise on Monday morning Dec. 1, Art Hill in Forest Park will glow with a special message for World AIDS Day.

A group called AIDS on Art Hill plans to work all night setting out and lighting 13,000 candles in bags to spell out the word “AIDS.” Aaron Laxton came up with the idea. He said the effort is designed to draw attention to a disease for which there is still no cure.

“It will be a huge spectacle,” Laxton said.

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Roman leader Marcus Antonius of Rome and Queen Cleopatra of Egypt are perhaps history’s most famous lovers, a couple whose passion changed the course of history.

Pilot Roy Caton checks his balloon for security before taking off on a flight.
Shula Neuman/St. Louis Public Radio

On the third weekend of September, St. Louisans turn their gaze skyward in the hopes of glimpsing a charming sight: dozens of multi-colored hot air balloons floating across a clear blue sky. It’s the Great Forest Park Balloon Race, a 42-year-old tradition in St. Louis that has been kept alive thanks to the friendship and generosity of four men.

Justin Johnson and William Godfred of Pretty Little Empire perform Thursday at St. Louis Public Radio. The band will perform Sunday at LouFest.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

LouFest returns for its fifth year at Forest Park this weekend.

The festival features big-name headliners Outkast, Cake and Arctic Monkeys, as well as local groups, including Old Salt Union, Big Brother Thunder and The Master Blasters, and Pretty Little Empire.

On Friday, we talked to LouFest founder and organizer Brian Cohen and two members of Pretty Little Empire: Justin Johnson and William Godfred. 

President & Executive Director of Forest Park Forever Leslie Hoffarth and Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Gary Bess unveil the new signs.
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio intern

Forest Park will be getting a face lift over the next few months as the park adds new signs, improved water fountains and more bike racks. That’s according to an announcement made by Forest Park Forever on Tuesday.

The group also said the park will be heating three of its bathrooms to accommodate park goers year round. Paths and trails will be improved to make these bathrooms more accessible as well.

Lesley Hoffarth, president and executive director of Forest Park Forever, says the upgrades were prompted by complaints and recommendations made by visitors.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

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.

(via Flickr/Tyson Blanquart)

Fair St. Louis’s move to Forest Park this year is presenting the St. Louis Police Department with some unique challenges. That's according to police chief Sam Dotson, who expressed his concerns at a police board hearing Thursday. 

This is the first time the annual Fourth of July celebration will take place in the city's largest park. Dotson said the logistics of the fair have taken more time than he would like.  But he said it's important to make sure the plan to keep everyone safe is airtight, especially this first year.

St. Louis’ LouFest has unveiled its complete lineup for the Sept. 6-7 music weekend.  

Provided by Fair St. Louis

Fair St. Louis gave the area “something to talk about” today with an announcement that Bonnie Raitt is among the top acts for this year’s Fair St. Louis. The Fray and The Band Perry round out the list of headliners for this year’s annual Fourth of July festival.

The Band Perry will play Thursday, July 3 at event, which moves to Forest Park this summer because of construction at the Arch Grounds.

St. Louis Art Museum, looking to the west
Provided by the Art Museum

Visitors to the St. Louis Art Museum will see some changes in the museum's Panorama restaurant.

The museum is looking closely at the menu, service and kitchen operations after a six-month review observed a $260,000 loss. The red ink was noted in a Zoo-Museum District audit of the museum, released last week.