Field Trip Fridays: Fair Saint Louis

4, July 2014
crowds at pageantAfternoon performance of the Pageant and Masque of St. Louis. The audience sat on Art Hill while the stage was built as an island in the Grand Basin (at bottom of photo). Photograph, 1914. Missouri History Museum.

On Field Trip Fridays, an occasional series, we’ll suggest places to visit that have some connection to the exhibit 250 in 250. They can relate to any of the 50 People, 50 Places, 50 Moments, 50 Images, or 50 Objects in the show.

posterPoster advertising Pageant and Masque in Forest Park, May 28–31, 1914. Missouri History Museum. Click to enlarge.

This weekend, thousands of St. Louisans will head over to Forest Park for Fair Saint Louis. The Fair can’t be held at the Arch grounds because of construction—but moving it to Art Hill makes perfect sense this year, the 250th anniversary of St. Louis’s founding. See, in 1914, Forest Park hosted the Pageant and Masque. This epic outdoor play was staged at the bottom of Art Hill to celebrate the city’s 150th anniversary. It was a huge hit, and more than 400,000 people saw the production during its four-day run. It’s fitting that 100 years later the city can do it all over again.

The Pageant and Masque detailed the history of the city, beginning with the Mound builders and other Native American tribes in this area. (You can read “The Book of Words of the Pageant and Masque of Saint Louis,” which was sold to visitors for 25 cents, here.)

On a side note, the success of the show and others in the park going back to the 1904 World’s Fair, contributed to the founding of the Municipal Opera (Muny), located nearby in Forest Park.

RumboldCharlotte Rumbold. Halftone photograph from The Missouri Woman, February 1916, page 21. Missouri History Museum.

How does this relate to the 250 in 250 exhibition, you’re wondering. A member of the Pageant and Masque’s executive committee, Charlotte Rumbold, is one of our 50 People. Rumbold was the city’s superintendent of playgrounds and recreation and worked to create clean and safe parks to get people out of their crowded tenements and into the great outdoors.

So get out this weekend (weather looks beautiful!) to Art Hill and you can celebrate the 238th anniversary of American independence, the 250th birthday of St. Louis’s founding, and the 100th anniversary of the Pageant and Masque. So many reasons to come to Forest Park!

—Lauren Mitchell, Senior Editor