Yes, I have officially fallen off the face of the earth. That’s what I get for accepting enough freelance projects to equate to a “real” job! I have missed so many of my favorite events this summer, including the International Institute’s Festival of Nations.

So I’m really hoping things slow down enough the next couple of weekends to explore two upcoming festivals in St. Charles: the Missouri River Irish Fest Sept. 17-19 (with the catchy slogan “halfway to St. Patrick’s Day”) and the St. Charles Oktoberfest Sept. 24-26.

I’ve not been to the Irish Fest, but last year my sons’ dance group preformed at the German event, and I have to say that I love the setting there along the river. We weren’t blown away by the carnival or the food, but since it’s just a few blocks to the historic Main Street district, it’s easy to find something better to eat. The fun is in the setting and the entertainment. I hear that the Irish Fest will have some demos of Gaelic football, among the usual dance groups and bands, which should be fun to see.

And there’s guaranteed to be good beer at both of these!

There’s a stereotype of German harvest festivals as being strictly for adults (reinforced by the unfortunately big-haired and skanky models on Oktoberfest billboards across town). Of the two biggest ones in St. Louis these next two weeks, the St. Charles fest (Sept. 26-28) has less of a party reputation; Soulard’s fest (Oct. 3-5) is the one with those awful billboards, which would scare me away except that I went last year and really had fun.

I’m not going to claim that these festivals have any cultural relevance — they surely don’t have much in common with their German brethren, aside from the brands of the beer and some of the music. But they do offer a chance to let your hair down and dance around a little more than you might usually! At least one of the bands is over from Germany doing both festivals — I noticed that when I initially checked the St. Charles homepage last week, before it crashed (although maybe it’s back up by the time you read this. Sorry I can’t give you more St. Charles info! I know there’s a parade Saturday at 10 a.m. and a car show on Sunday on South Main.)  The children’s activities at both consist mostly of inflatable bounce castles (a $10 ticket at Soulard is good all day) but my kids like music, so we’ll probably spend at least a little time teaching them the first festival song everyone should know:

Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit
Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit.

After the song, you clink glasses with everyone within arm’s reach, looking them in the eye while you do so, and then take a big swig.

M. experienced his first German harvest fest at age 18 months on a visit to our adopted hometown of Stuttgart. He thoroughly loved dancing on the benches along with all the rest of us (at Soulard, these benches also are authentic), and I look forward to giving S. the same experience someday. In the meantime, we’ll replicate it as best we can, with the quintessential fest dish, rotisserie chicken. (DON’T bother with the pretzels at Soulard — they’re advertised as being baked in Germany, true, but Gus’ are a thousand percent better because they’re fresh.) I could go on and on with advice, but I’ll stop here with a plug for M.’s school: Buy your beer at Soulard from the Warsteiner trailer!