The idea for the St. Charles Arts and Literary Festival was born in early 2016 during a very fortunate lunch introduction. Having recently heard of a similar festival, Mrs. Dianne Garrison knew that the St. Charles community deserved a similar experience. She introduced Erica Land, Executive Director of the St. Charles City-County Library Foundation, and Melissa Whitwam, Executive Director of the Foundry Art Centre. With the Foundry’s beautiful venue space, the Library Foundation’s many relationships, and both organizations’ missions to benefit our community through art and literature, it was immediately decided that this event not only was possible, but necessary.
The two teams began working to make this event a gift to the community and a showcase for the literary, visual, and performing art talent in the area. They invited authors, poets, visual artists, illustrators, merchants, and musicians to fill the Foundry Art Centre’s Grand Hall with vendor tables. Groups like the St. Louis Poetry Center, as well as individual authors, all shared their art with the public. In the main galleries, the Foundry presented “Context II”—an exhibition about the overlap of visual and liberal arts. On the main stage, three talented local musicians performed and speakers took the stage between their performances. St. Charles’ SugarBot Sweet Shop and Course Coffee kept guests’ appetites sated as they took a break in the “Book Nook” to read their latest purchase from one of the authors, or gift from the Library Foundation, who provided tables of free books for guests to take home.
While all this excitement and interaction made the event a success, there was one visitor that made the day extra special for the Arts and Literary Festival’s youngest guests: Daniel Tiger! Dianne Garrison, the creator of the model for the Daniel Tiger Trolley Ride Event stated the idea grew from their two-year-old grandson’s love for Daniel Tiger. Dianne noticed most of the Daniel Tiger stories included a trolley, whose likeness was similar to the St. Charles City Trolley. After much planning and coordinating, arrangements were made to bring Daniel Tiger to our neighborhood and let him and his young friends make a day of riding our city’s trolley and reading stories. Mayor Sally Faith generously supported this project and took a trolley ride herself to show off our neighborhood. Even St. Charles EMT and Fire Departments stopped by to share the fun. They allowed guests to see the insides of their ambulance and fire truck and gave everyone at the Festival another example of how our community works together to make every day a beautiful day in our neighborhood.
The day’s events brought together an amazing group of talent, creativity, and curiosity. This inaugural St. Charles Arts and Literary Festival is only the first; preparations are already beginning for next year’s community and cultural events. The St. Charles City-County Library Foundation and Foundry Art Centre are extremely grateful to share these gifts with the community and look forward to seeing more happy guests soon!
Photography by Michael Schlueter