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Frizz Fest Returns To Tower Grove Park To Celebrate Natural Hair

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Frizzy By Nature
Frizz Fest gets underway in Tower Grove Park at 1 p.m. Saturday.

When Leslie Hughes talks about St. Louis, she lights up. The energy in her voice is contagious as she describes the local businesses and public officials set to take part in Saturday’s Frizz Fest — the fourth iteration of a natural hair and beauty celebration she first launched here in 2017.

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St. Louisan Leslie Hughes created Frizz Fest, along with her nonprofit Frizzy By Nature, in 2017.

But 4½ years ago, when she headed home to St. Louis from Los Angeles for Christmas and wound up deciding to stay, Hughes was in a different place.

“I had recently lost my mother as well as both of my aunts and my grandmother in a short time span,” Hughes told St. Louis on the Air.

She’d moved to L.A. with high hopes a few years prior but now looks back on that chapter as one of the hardest times in her life. On top of losing loved ones, she lost her sense of purpose and self-confidence.

But after moving back to her hometown, she found her passion and started Frizzy by Nature, a nonprofit focused on inspiring confidence in women and encouraging self-love.

“I just wanted to help other women who may be going through the same thing as me, and I also wanted to help me,” Hughes explained.

She has described the Frizz Fest as her “heart on display,” an environment where everyone is free to be themselves. And while Hughes’ focus is women of color, she’s quick to emphasize that the festival is geared for everyone.

Along with vendors selling products and giving hair demonstrations, attendees can expect live music, food trucks, activities — and even remarks by St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones.

Frizz Fest Is Back This Weekend — And Bigger Than Ever
Listen as founder Leslie Hughes talks with host Sarah Fenske.

Hughes is blown away by the festival’s success. She said she started with modest hopes.

“We rented out a small pavilion in Tower Grove Park [in 2017], and I just remember saying, ‘If only my family and friends come, I’m fine,’” Hughes said. “I had no expectations, and even from the first year, it was way more than I could ever imagine.”

Strong turnout confirmed to Hughes that there was demand for such gatherings in St. Louis — and prompted her to keep growing the effort.

In addition to Jones, another community leader will also give remarks Saturday: 26th Ward Alderwoman Shameem Clark Hubbard.

“She’s going to talk about the CROWN Act, which helps end the discrimination against race-based hairstyles in the workforce, education, all that great stuff,” Hughes said.

Related Event
What: Frizz Fest 2021
When: 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: West end of Tower Grove Park (4257 Northeast Drive, St. Louis, MO 63110)
Note: Tickets are $5, with registration online through Eventbrite. Admission is free for children 15 years of age and under.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Evie is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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