September is a great time to visit St. Louis, Missouri, because of the mild temperatures, the family-friendly events, festivals, and food. The first month of fall sees barbecue cook-offs, hot air balloon races, and apple-picking gatherings in the Gateway City, and it's bound to be less busy after the students go back to school. Whether it's tasting local beers, jamming at an outdoor concert, or sampling the local food truck fare, there's an activity to suit any taste this time of year.
Check event websites for updated details, as many of these events have been canceled in 2020.
The Clayton neighborhood invites hundreds of artists from around the U.S. to show off their talents in painting, sculpture, photography, and crafts for three days of art in early September. In addition to exhibits and merchant stalls, the St. Louis Art Fair also features live music and food from some of the area's top restaurants. 2020's event will take place virtually from September 11 to 13. All art will be featured on the St. Louis Art Fair website.
Autumn is prime apple-picking season in the St. Louis area, and Eckert's Orchards celebrates the harvest with its annual AppleFest, kicking off at the Belleville, Illinois, location over Labor Day weekend in 2020. Every subsequent weekend in September, all three locations (Belleville, Grafton, and Millstadt) hold a two-day festival featuring apple-themed fair food, live music, farm animals, wagon rides, and children's activities. Belleville and Millstadt are roughly 30 minutes away from St. Louis, and Grafton is about 55 minutes by car. The festival is held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
Since 1998, local brewery Schlafly has thrown a yearly party for beer lovers. Typically, the family-friendly HOP in the City offers unlimited samples of more than 40 Schlafly brews and six rare specialty tappings, plus food and live music throughout the day at the Historic Tap Room. In 2020, the festival has split into Hop at Home, a virtual tasting that includes 24 Schlafly beers and a festival T-shirt for $85, and Hop on the Lot, a socially-distanced event where a $250 table reservation gets you a bucket of beer and dinner for up to six people.
Labor Day may mark the end of summer, but it calls for one of the biggest parties in St. Louis. The long holiday weekend is filled with events, from a cultural festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden to a three-day blues extravaganza on on Laclede's Landing.
- The Japanese Festival: The Missouri Botanical Garden celebrates Japanese history, culture, and art with lantern displays, tea ceremonies, origami workshops, and storytelling on the grounds' authentic Japanese gardens. 2020's event has been canceled but there will still be Toro Nagashi lantern ceremonies and extended hours all weekend.
- St. Louis County Greekfest: The city's annual Greekfest features culinary delights like gyros, kebabs, and loukoumades (three words: fried dough balls), as well as live Greek music and folk dancers in and around the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. 2020's event was canceled.
- Big Muddy Blues Festival: St. Louis is known for its blues music, which you can listen to all day long (and for free) on Laclede's Landing over Labor Day weekend. More than 30,000 attend this outdoor music festival, most often with their camping chairs in tow. The 2020 festival was canceled.
- Midwest Wingfest: Possibly the biggest chicken wing festival in the country (at least the region) is this three-day party featuring booze, old cars, an annual 5K run, and, of course, a bottomless reserve of chicken wings. The event raises money for disabled veterans. Wingfest 2020 was canceled.
The Great Godfrey Maze is a fall tradition in the Metro East. Visitors head to Robert E. Glazebrook Park (about 40 minutes from St. Louis) to wander through the giant maze that occupies seven acres of a Godfrey, Illinois, cornfield. The corn maze is open throughout fall on weekends, and on Friday and Saturday nights, the daring can attempt it after dark. Flashlights are permitted and are sold, along with other concessions, outside of the maze. Kids 5 years old and under get in free. The maze is not open to the public in 2020.
One of the best ways to enjoy the nice weather is with a shaved ice from one of St. Louis' most beloved food trucks in hand. The cream of the city's food truck crop gathers on the Friday following Labor Day weekend for Sauce Magazine's culinary celebration in Tower Grove Park. Some favorites include Angie Burger, K-Bop, Tiki’s Shaved Ice, Mission Taco Truck, and more than a dozen more. The breezy evening would normally feature craft beer and music, too, but in 2020, the event has been canceled.
The Great Forest Park Balloon Race, part of the Kentucky Derby Festival, takes place over two days in late September and is one of the biggest events of the year. It all begins on Friday with live music and the Balloon Glow, in which balloons are lit up at night, drawing crowds of more than 50,000 people each year. There are also fireworks and a "race," the grand finale when dozens of colorful hot air balloons take flight. In 2020, the festival has been canceled, but the balloons will still go up in a series of tribute flights from September 17 to 20.
The Greater St. Louis Hispanic Festival celebrates the food, music, and cultures of Latin America. The three-day event is held at Soulard Park just south of downtown St. Louis in late September. Featuring live Latino bands playing the traditional tunes (Latin rock, merengue, salsa, percussion, cumbia, and bachata), folk dancers, and popular Hispanic food, it's truly a feast for the senses. The 2020 festival was canceled.
September is an opportunity for the best restaurants in town to show off their finest dishes (think: Thai BBQ pork mac and cheese and other mouthwatering treats) at Taste of St. Louis, going strong since 2004. The three-day culinary event features art, live music, cooking demonstrations, and more at Soldier's Memorial Park on the second weekend of the month, and while it's free to attend, you'll pay per item to enjoy bites from the more than 30 local dining establishments on Restaurant Row. Taste of St. Louis was canceled in 2020.
Saint Charles, an affluent town about 30 minutes from St. Louis, hosts an annual Oktoberfest celebration in late September. The free, three-day festival is filled with activities for visitors of all ages. There will be German music, beer, and food, plus a parade, a bratwurst-eating contest, a wiener dog derby, root beer fun runs, and an antique car show. The children's area includes face painting, a balloon artist, painting pumpkins, and more. In 2020, the festival was canceled.
Q in the Lou is hog heaven for the barbecue lover. Held on the last weekend of the month at Kiener Plaza, Broadway and Market, and downtown St. Louis, the three-day festival features top BBQ chefs from all over the country smoking thousands of pounds of meat and putting on cooking demonstrations. Food, wine, and beer is available for purchase. The 2020 BBQ event was canceled.