Fringe Festival Puts Kids in the Front Row of St. Louis’ Arts Scene

For many kids, theater is defined as the local multiplex and acting is limited to the shows that spill out of Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel.

But true performing arts are immersive. They’re engaging, personal and expressive. Through dance, music and acting, young artists are given to the opportunity to convey their emotions and fuel their imaginations, taking their audiences along for the ride. To allow our kids’ creativity to run wild, exposing them now to the diversity in arts is essential.

This weekend, as part of the annual St. Lou Fringe Festival of Performing Arts, kids of all ages can get their hands on art projects and instruments, build their skills in dance and music, and inspire their own inner performers at Fringe Family.

Since 1947, Fringe Festivals across the world have given emerging and established artists a stage to share remarkable pieces too often stifled due to lack of money, time or opportunity. In turn, audiences get affordable access to some of the edgiest and most creative performances that boost their appreciation for the arts in their own communities.

St. Lou Fringe will run June 18-22 at Grand Center with more than 35 acts gracing its stages. While a number of the performances are suitable for children or teens, Fringe Family will give kids a dedicated area where they can learn, create and play – all at no cost to their families.

Said Amanda Pintore, Fringe Family Director, “St. Lou Fringe wants families, and specifically, their young people, to find their place within our festival. We offer up Fringe Family as a way to cultivate the young artists of St. Louis and invite them to explore the St. Lou Fringe community.”

Fringe Family will be held at Strauss Park at Grand Center, 3534 Washington, on June 21 and 22 from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days. During the event, kids can participate in a number of free workshops led by local and national performers that spotlight everything from dance and hula hooping to circus skills and American Sign Language. In addition, they can catch demonstrations from Saint Louis Science Center and try out a variety of art projects.

Performing on the Fringe Family stage will be John Maxfield on guitar and Roxane McWilliams on accordion as well as renowned magician Zi. Kids can also sample pancakes from Dr. Dan the Pancake Man and get their faces painted by Fantasy Faces Airbrush Art.

This year, Fringe Family chose to partner with its neighbor and a family favorite, Circus Flora, to provide families a chance to enjoy one of St. Louis’ most treasured and unique theater companies. By attending Fringe Family, you can receive discounted tickets to Circus Flora’s final performances by purchasing tickets online using the promo code FRINGE. Tickets must be picked up at Fringe Family or you can get a coupon at the Festival and present it at the Circus Flora box office.

For the team behind St. Lou Fringe, Fringe Family is their chance to nurture a new generation of art performers and art lovers.

“We hope that young people will walk away from our event wanting more,” Pintore remarked. “Our goal is to create a kinesthetic, imaginative world that enables them to create and express. We want young people to see artists in their element doing what they love successfully, and we also hope that their families are able to take them to see one of our family-friendly shows. We believe that young people who are exposed to the arts will carry the skills to not only become honest, brave artists, but also to become kind, conscientious humans.”

For more information on Fringe Family or to check out St. Lou Fringe’s kid-appropriate show options, visit stlfringe.com.

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Metro East mom Nicole Plegge is the lifestyle and pop culture blogger for STL Parent. Besides working as a freelance writer & public relations specialist, and raising two daughters and a husband, Nicole's greatest achievements are finding her misplaced car keys each day and managing to leave the house in a stain-free shirt. Her biggest regret is never being accepted to the Eastland School for Girls. Follow Nicole on Twitter @STLWriterinIL 

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