On July 11, the streets of historic downtown Maplewood will turn into a theater stage and art gallery as the city spotlights the region’s most ingenious artists and celebrates its own version of Bastille Day with the ninth annual Let Them Eat Art festival.
For one amazing evening, art lovers and foodies alike can explore the city’s renowned shops and restaurants while enjoying incredible entertainment along the way. In addition, you can view the works of 35 regional artisans and artists that will grace the numerous businesses that call Maplewood home.
What started as an adult-oriented event has grown more inclusive over that past nine years as parents who wanted to expose their kids to the arts brought them along to experience the fun. Today, Let Them Eat Art features a special spot just for the littlest arts fans. (But don’t worry grownups – there are still wine tastings and late-night burlesque shows after the kids go to bed. Book a babysitter and enjoy!).
“In all honesty, this event was very adult-focused from the beginning,” said Rachelle L’Ecuyer, community development director for the City of Maplewood, via email. “But everybody, including me, wanted to bring their kids, and even if we didn’t necessarily accommodate for the kids, they were coming anyway so we knew we had to make a place for them.”
“Our main concern as the event has grown is to make an area that is safe for the children but one that is also fun. We are so lucky to have the Sutton Loop now, on Sutton just a couple blocks south of Manchester. It’s a big open area and secluded from the big crowds and traffic. If you’re bringing your kid to Let Them Eat Art, you should bring them to the Sutton Loop.”
Starting at 6 p.m., Sutton Park erupts into a kid’s wonderland with a variety of renowned performers and artists that are as just engaging to adults as they are to the little ones. Kids can watch performances from the Everyday Circus, including jugglers and magicians, and Top Spinning by Hi Tanah. In addition, they can check out artist Phil Berwick’s “Tree Toons,” snack on kid-friendly treats from the Maplewood Chamber of Commerce food booth, and climb aboard the PNC Arts Alive Bus mobile art studio, hosted by the Contemporary Art Museum and packed with hands-on art activities and exhibits.
Off the Park, Impish Grin is offering whimsical face painting for children at Jimmy John’s on Manchester. Your kids will also be wowed by hula hoopers from the STL Hoop Club, dance the evening away to the city’s hottest bands, including Joe Dirt and the Dirty Boys Band and Vote for Pedro, and be amazed by the magic tricks of Jason Stack.
For parents, Let Them Eat Art is an ideal way to spend time with the kids and add a little culture to their summer before enjoying quality time with your fellow grown-ups.
“I hope kids have a chance to be a kid at Let Them Eat Art. I hope they get a chance to listen to music, interact with an artist, watch how art is made, eat some good food, run around on the grass and then go home and go to bed so their parents can spend some time together after the event!” L’Ecuyer laughed.
Photos: Doug Houser/City of Maplewood
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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