After two years of pivots during the pandemic, Fair St. Louis returns with a full schedule of music acts presented on four stages downtown.
Headliners are rock/pop bands X Ambassadors and Third Eye Blind, country singers Tyler Farr and Rodney Atkins, and R&B and hip-hop acts Color Me Badd, Montell Jordan, Coolio, Tone Loc and Young MC.
St. Louis acts include Lisa Ramey, Jordan Suter and the High Road, Joe Dirt, Just in Time, Michael B. Whit and Well Hungarians.
The festival, held July 2-4, moves to Kiener Plaza and Ballpark Village, from its usual home at Gateway Arch National Park.
After two years of alternative celebrations, Fair St. Louis returns to downtown July 2-4
“I’m personally very thrilled to be able to celebrate the 41st year of Fair St. Louis, to bring it back to St. Louis and provide a free event for three days for people to enjoy world-class music, great food and fireworks,” says Tim Meers, general chairman of Fair St. Louis. “I’m excited about the quality and depth of what we’re bringing.”
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America’s Birthday Parade, which is organized separately from Fair St. Louis, will take place at 10 a.m. July 2 downtown.
Concerts will be presented music festival-style with a main stage at Kiener Plaza, another main stage at the Together Credit Union Plaza at Ballpark Village and two smaller indoor stages at Ballpark Village.
Performances will be scheduled throughout the day on all the stages, sometimes at the same time.
“We’re doing this for the first time,” Meers says. “We think it will provide an even better experience with the ability to flow between great venues. We’re providing opportunities people haven’t had in the past.”
This is the first time Kiener Plaza has been used for Fair St. Louis, though the event has taken place at nearby Soldiers Memorial. The new footprint is smaller than what’s offered on the Arch grounds, but Meers says Kiener Plaza will provide adequate space for the concerts and other fair attractions.
Fair St. Louis will produce a fireworks display only on July 4, rather than on all three nights of the fair as in years past.
“It’s our grandest and largest show we’ve ever produced,” Meers says. “I’m not sure of anything else that goes on on this scale, certainly not in the Midwest.”
The air show, another staple of the fair, is not returning. The Spirit of St. Louis Air Show and STEM Expo is scheduled for June 11-12 in Chesterfield, and Meers says it didn’t make sense for Fair St. Louis to “compete” with a separate air show.
The last air show at Fair St. Louis was in 2019.
Food once again will be a big part of the fair. In addition to traditional carnival fare, St. Louis restaurants will be more involved, with a food area at Kiener Plaza. Participating restaurants will be announced later.
The fair also will present the second annual Gateway Legends Invitational on July 1-3, featuring collegiate esports teams at Bally Sports Live! at Ballpark Village.
“It’s a great addition for somebody who has never experienced gaming firsthand,” Meers says. “Gateway Legends Invitational continues to grow.”
The invitational was introduced last year by Fair St. Louis as regular activities remained on hold because of the pandemic.
Not being able to present a more traditional Fair St. Louis since 2019 “was difficult, absolutely,” Meers says. “We were embarking on our 39th, then our 40th year of pulling it off. But it was the times we were in.”
In 2020, just a few months into the pandemic, Fair St. Louis produced a virtual concert event with performances by Chingy, Alexandra Kay, Dylan Triplett and Jordan Suter.
“We did a lot to help the responders with PPE and meals to try to give back what we can to the community, still trying to do something with limited ability to do so,” Meers says.
In 2021, Fair St. Louis presented a July 4 fireworks display.
Returning to a full festival this year required some “knocking off the dust,” he says. “When you’ve been gone for years and the world changes a little bit. But there was still a similar feel to the process. We just had to look at things a little differently.”
After consulting with the National Park Service, officials decided against presenting the festival at Gateway Arch National Park because there was no way of knowing what COVID-19 restrictions might be in place by summer.
Though there are differences this year, Meers assures attendees that the event “will feel like it is Fair St. Louis. We’re bringing elements they know and love.”
What Fair St. Louis • When Noon-10 p.m. July 2-4 • Where Kiener Plaza and Ballpark Village • How much Free • More info fairsaintlouis.org