They were walking through Tower Grove Park carrying carved sticks adorned with shrunken heads. They were dancing to the rhythm of drums and recorded music. They were walking dogs and visiting with friends new and old. They were wearing costumes from around the world. They were dining on cuisine from over thirty nations. They were all attending the the Festival of Nations in Tower Grove Park which continues today.
For a weekend in late sumer, Tower Grove Park hosts and the International Institute presents the Festival of Nations, a multicultural experience celebrating the often underestimated diversity of St. Louis. Delicious food, perfect weather, wonderful music and fascinating exhibitions fill the southeast corner of the Park.
We attended yesterday. We ate from the different booths and enjoyed the various costumes and dance. We kept seeing people walking with the scary looking walking sticks.
One side of the event has mostly food booths, the other offers booths selling merchandise from around the world. And in between are various performance areas with musicians and dancers.
One booth representing Russia sold those wood carved, colorfully painted dolls which open and reveal many layers of smaller and smaller dolls on the inside. A booth offering Chinese themed goods was beautiful just to walk by. The festive bright colors were stunning. A man and woman dancing in costume to flamenco music were followed by a Japanese troupe dancing to music which sounded like Japanese nursery rhymes. I'm thinking this music would be great as either a conversation starter at our next house party or for setting the rhythm for cleaning house, maybe both.
And then the mystery of the shrunken-head-mounted-walking-sticks was solved. The most popular of all the booths represented Indonesia. Their items were made of molded plastic to look like carved wood. They sold rustic looking plaques with the words "Margaritaville" carved into them and mini surf boards with a bite out of them and the logo for LandShark beer, and what turned out to biggest seller in the park this day, walking sticks adorned with little shrunken heads. I don't know what any of these items have to do with Indonesia, but the operators of this booth sure seemed to know the kinds of things St. Louisans would like to take back home!
With a beautiful Sunday on tap, another trip to the International Festival may work out for a lunch visit today. It would be good to see you there.