Greece or Japan, take your pick (Aug. 30-Sept. 1)

August 28, 2008

Labor Day weekend brings two popular, food-filled, very different cultural festivals.  Ironically, they’re not far from each other in St. Louis; a short drive will get you from the Greek Festival at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in the Central West End over to the Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden in the Shaw neighborhood.

If I were planning your weekend, I’d advise attending the free Greek festival first, when it opens at 11 a.m., simply because there’s less space — it seems that every square inch of the complex is filled with something related to the festival — and it’s worth arriving early to avoid the crush. Last year there were several dining rooms where food was sold. The area with the entertainment was more crowded so we chose the covered outdoor patio area, which suited the boys fine since they love watching air conditioner condenser units, but the noisy mechanical ambiance didn’t please everyone.  A parking tip:  Use the garage with an entrance on Laclede; it has a pedestrian exit on Forest Park Parkway right next to the church.  A food tip:  The lamb shanks are really, really tasty.

The Japanese Festival’s homepage is particularly helpful this year, featuring asterisks next to family-friendly activities like the Dashi (a moving stage pulled by children in a procession), choruses, sumo wrestling, taiko drumming and the children’s game area organized by the local Kodomo No Asobi Japanese Language School.  The botanical garden makes full use of its spaciousness by separating the food vendors from the craft/culture stalls from the activities scattered throughout the grounds.  When the boys have such a long walk between events, they tend to sit still for awhile and actually watch the demonstrations, a huge bonus!  The standard admission fees apply (note that there’s no free resident admission this Saturday morning, due to the festival).


2 Responses to “Greece or Japan, take your pick (Aug. 30-Sept. 1)”

  1. Why not both? If I had to pick one I would choose Greek. It seems less exotic and easier for my tiny gag reflex to handle.

  2. Jester James Says:

    I would personally take Japanese food and culture over Greek. But I’m part Japanese, so I’m a teensy bit biased. You mentioned the Greek one is free, does that mean the Japanese one wasn’t?

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