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Evolution Festival will bring music to Forest Park at a scale not seen in years

Neil Krug
Evolution Festival
Brandi Carlile is among the headliners for the inaugural Evolution Festival at Forest Park on Aug. 26-27.

A new music festival will bring headliners Brandi Carlile, the Black Keys, the Black Crowes and Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals to Forest Park.

Organizers of the Evolution Festival said up to 20,000 festivalgoers could attend each day of the event, planned for Aug. 26-27.

The concert is the first of this scale planned for Forest Park since LouFest organizers canceled just days before its 2018 event. LouFest had been perhaps the signature music festival in St. Louis, drawing tens of thousands of fans annually beginning with its debut in 2010.

“It’s a festival for everyone. The whole idea is to bring the community together, to do something that enriches our culture, where people can be together and enjoy music and food and drink in a very nice atmosphere,” said co-Executive Producer Steve Schankman of Contemporary Productions.

The Evolution Festival will include two stages on Langenberg Field near the Boat House.

Other artists include Brittany Howard, Ice Cube, Morgan Wade, Cautious Clay and Modern English. The event will also feature vendors of barbecue and bourbon, including some local businesses.

Schankman and partner Joe Litvag of the Just Listen Company will produce the festival. Both men have promoted concerts in St. Louis for decades. Schankman helped create major venues including the one currently known as the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater and the Pageant in the Delmar Loop; Litvag has deep experience producing festivals.

Evolution Festival
Ice Cube will perform at the Evolution Festival in Forest Park. The event will include two stages and vendors of food and drink.

Producers are investing “several million dollars” into the event, Schankman said, declining to be more specific.

“We believe this can be a very good thing for the park and for the community,” said John O’Gorman, senior vice president of development and community initiatives for Forest Park Forever.

“The festival organizers have been very thoughtful and intentional in their planning and their very early engagement of Forest Park Forever and the city, and really asked our insights on what would work with the park. So we're confident that this will be a success,” O’Gorman said.

Evolution Festival will fall two weekends before Music at the Intersection, a multivenue music festival in Grand Center produced by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation. After launching in 2021 as an indoor festival with limited capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic, Music at the Intersection moved to outdoor stages last year, and organizers said it’s primed to continue growing.

St. Louis can support that festival and another one in Forest Park, Schankman said, for years to come.

“I’m not doing this as a dip in the water to see if it’s going to work. It’s going to work. The people are going to buy tickets. But like with anything else, we need the community behind it,” Schankman said.

Jeremy is the arts & culture reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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