Fair St. Louis has been a July 4th tradition in St. Louis for more than 30 years. The Gateway Arch and Mississippi Riverfront are St. Louis' favorite place to celebrate Independence Day. In 2013, the Fair will run for three days: July 4, 5 and 6. The Fair will feature air shows, free concerts and fireworks displays. Here's information on the parade, concerts, kids activities, food and fireworks. Plus, you'll find valuable tips for getting around downtown, where to parking and other ideas to help you have a great time at Fair St.
For other ways to celebrate Independence Day, check out 15 Top July 4th Celebrations in the St. Louis Area.
The VP Parade:
One of the oldest Independence Day traditions in St. Louis is the Veiled Prophet Parade. The annual parade will kick off at 9:30 a.m. on July 4. If you want a good spot along the parade route, it's best to get there early. Every year, thousands of visitors turn out to see the marching bands, giant balloons and colorful floats.
Food & Family Fun:
Food is always one of the big draws at Fair St. Louis. You'll find all kinds of foods to satisfy your tastes, including funnel cakes, corn dogs, gyros and fresh-squeezed lemonade. Another dining option would be to visit one of the restaurants in Laclede's Landing just north of the fairgrounds.
The Fair also has an activity area for just for the kids. The K-Town Kids Zone will entertain your children with games, crafts and performances by local dancers and musicians. The Kids Zone opens at noon each day of the Fair.
The Air Shows are back again for the 2013 Fair. There will be five air shows during the fair featuring a variety of military jets, stunt planes and other aircraft. The air shows are July 4 at noon and 4 p.m., July 5 at noon and 4 p.m., and July 6 at 5 p.m. Each air show should last at least 90 minutes. See pictures of previous air shows and other sights from the Fair.
Other than the Fair's fireworks, most crowds come to Fair St. Louis to see the live concerts. This year, there are three main stage shows under the Arch. Trace Adkins performs on July 4 at 8 p.m., Bret Michaels on July 5 at 8 p.m., and the Counting Crows on July 6 at 8 p.m. It's best to find your spot early because the Archgrounds fill up quickly.
Few locations make a better setting (or frame) for fireworks than the Gateway Arch. The display is set to music and each burst of fireworks reflects off the stainless steel Arch and echos off the buildings downtown.
The show is scheduled to begin each night at about 9:20 p.m., but don't wait until the last minute to make your way downtown. The Archgrounds begin filling up hours earlier, with people staking out their spots with blankets and lawn chairs (by 8:30 p.m., most of the grass will be covered by a patchwork of blankets). The grass under the Gateway Arch is no doubt the best place to see the fireworks and hear the music, but if you don't make it in time, you can still see the fireworks all over downtown.
Parking and Transportation:
All of the entertainment and activities at the Fair are free, but be prepared to pay for parking. Expect to pay at least $20 to $25 for the parking lots and covered garages closest to the Archgrounds. Also keep in mind, the Cardinals are in town on July 5 and 6, so there will be baseball traffic to deal with as well. Some good options for parking are the Stadium East and West garages near Busch Stadium, the S&H surface lots at 4th Street and Cerre, and the parking lots near Laclede's Landing and the Edward Jones Dome.
Leaving the Fair:
However, it's higly recommended you skip the parking hassle altogether. After the fireworks, police direct all traffic into just a couple of routes leading out of downtown. It's not uncommon to wait 30 minutes just to exit the garage or lot, and another 30 minutes before you reach the highway.
There are two ways you can avoid the frustration of sitting in traffic. The first option is to ride Metrolink to the Fair. The nearest stations are Laclede's Landing, 8th and Pine, and Busch Stadium. A one-way ticket is $2.25 for adults or $1.10 for seniors and children.
Or, if you did drive your own vehicle downtown, simply wait out the traffic. You can't hang around the Archgrounds (police move in quickly to clear everyone out), but you can make your way to one of the various restaurants, bars or lounges downtown or in Laclede's Landing for a drink, late meal or snack. Call ahead of time to see who's open late, who's kitchen will be open and even if they're taking reservations. Plan on the fireworks being over before 10 p.m., and traffic clearing out by 11 p.m.