Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Roots Festival of the Little Hills Traces Its Lineage to City's 200th Birthday Celebration in 1969

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Roots Festival of the Little Hills Traces Its Lineage to City's 200th Birthday Celebration in 1969

Article excerpt

The seeds were planted for St. Charles' annual Festival of the Little Hills in 1969, when the city celebrated its 200th birthday.

The commemoration piqued the interest of South Main Street business owners, preservationists and city officials. They envisioned an annual event that would promote the history of St. Charles and generate money for civic organizations through the operation of craft and food booths.

"There was a lot of history to celebrate, which made St. Charles fertile ground for an annual event like a Festival of the Little Hills," said Archie Scott. As a former president of the South Main Preservation Society, Scott was one of the early organizers of the festival. "Even though nothing was done the following year, the seed was planted," he said.

Attendance was spotty for the first festival, in 1971, which had a half-dozen booths set up along each block of South Main. Still, organizers persisted. The next year, craft space was sold out and crowds tripled. Even skeptics recognized that an enjoyable and lucrative tradition had been born.

Scott said that before strict guidelines were put in effect to exercise control over beer gardens and entertainment, there were problems he described as growing pains.

The South Main Preservation Society pulled out at one point because of residents' reports of vandalism and drinking.

Scott said the same problems plagued organizers of similar events in the St. Louis metropolitan area in the mid- to late 1970s.

"The festival turned around because the festival board has been very sensitive and cognizant about controlling the beer gardens and engaging the kind of music and entertainment that appeals to families," he said.

Organizers expect more than 200,000 people to flock to South and North Main Streets and Frontier Park this weekend for the 25th annual Festival of the Little Hills.

As many as 325 juried crafts and food booths will be open along the street and in the park from 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Demonstrators will whittle, weave, carve and hammer everything from soap roses and garlic and herb wreaths to redwood canoes. …

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