About Fair Saint Louis Foundation
In 1981, St. Louis businessman Robert R. Hermann organized a group of civic leaders to create an event that would unite the region in a joint effort to promote St. Louis to the country and the world.
With the help of 100 community leaders and approximately 1,000 volunteers, the first three-day V.P. Fair was held on the St. Louis Riverfront July 3-5, 1981. The 90-acre Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, with the majestic Gateway Arch provided the perfect setting for what was to become known as “America’s Biggest Birthday Party.”
Under the leadership of Mel Loewenstein, September 1994 the V.P. Fair name changed to Fair Saint Louis. This new title more effectively showcases the civic pride and spirit of the people of the St. Louis region. The name Fair Saint Louis acknowledges this event is produced by St. Louisans, for St. Louisans and their guests from all over the world.
Support from both local and national sponsors enables the Fair to bring the best entertainment to St. Louis each year. The Fair combined live music and entertainment with educational activities, delicious food and magnificent fireworks to bring multiple days of fun to St. Louis. Entertainers such as Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Bob Hope, The Beach Boys, Ray Charles, Elton John, and The Black Eyed Peas have participated, as have political leaders including then Vice President George Bush, his wife Barbara, and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Warren Burger.
The Fair Saint Louis Foundation, formed to organize and operate the Fair each year, has donated numerous gifts to the St. Louis community in conjunction with the Fair. Over the years, the Foundation has contributed the lighting of the Eads Bridge, the Mississippi River Overlook, the mile-long Riverfront Promenade, and was a partner in providing two Grand Staircases beneath the Arch as a part of the National Park system.
In the spring of 2005, after several calls to the Mayor’s office from residents of Saint Louis, Mayor Francis Slay recognized the desire of the people to have FREE live entertainment available on the Riverfront all summer long. With the help of the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission and six short weeks of planning, Celebrate St. Louis…LIVE on the Levee was born. The initial-three night event included entertainers Macy Grey, Blues Traveler, and Collective Soul along with fireworks each night before crowds of 20,000+ people. LIVE on the Levee seemed to be just what the St. Louis community was looking for, drawing all kinds of people and families to the riverfront for good music, excellent food and phenomenal fireworks.
Fair Saint Louis/Celebrate Saint Louis
Shortly after the kickoff of LIVE on the Levee, organizers of Fair Saint Louis and Celebrate Saint Louis recognized their similar formats and shared commitment to the downtown Saint Louis revitalization, and in December 2005 the two organizations merged to form Fair Saint Louis/Celebrate St. Louis. This merger was formed to celebrate the newly renovated downtown St. Louis through a summer-long celebration of FREE, live entertainment and phenomenal firework finales to the riverfront. In 2010, the LIVE on the Levee named changed to the Celebrate St. Louis Summer Concerts to better reflect the mission of celebrating as a region.
In 2014, Fair Saint Louis moved to Forest Park due to renovations to the Arch grounds. Due to the move, the Celebrate St. Louis Summer Concerts were removed from the summer programming. For 2018, Fair Saint Louis is excited to return to Gateway Arch National Park and continue to offer free family entertainment.
Fair Saint Louis 2020 will showcase 40 years of tradition under the Gateway Arch and is shaping up to be America’s Biggest Birthday Party to date!