A barbecue festival! An exposition of zines and comic books! The Miss Gay Gateway Missouri America pageant! This weekend is positively stuffed with fun things to do, and not only is all of it $10 or less, but many parts of it are absolutely free. Make your plans now before these events sell out.
1. See an art show with some flower power
The Tournament of Roses Parade still requires the use of real flowers on all floats. The visual spectacle of the 2012 parade inspired artist Andrew Millner to create his new show, Rose Parade. Millner made close-up photographs of the flowers, drew the floral arrangements comprising the floats using a stylus on a digital tablet, and then created large-scale digital prints. In some instances, he drew on top of those prints using acrylic paint extruded through a cake-decorating tool; the results are hand-drawn digital flowers that have both texture and weight to go with their rich, glossy color. Rose Parade opens with a free reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, September 25, at William Shearburn Gallery (665 South Skinker Boulevard; 314-367-8020 or www.shearburngallery.com). The exhibit remains up through Friday, November 6, and the gallery is open noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. — Paul Friswold
2. Catch a funny film festival
Sometimes, you just want to sit in a room full of smart and funny folks who are great at making fun of things. That opportunity presents itself in grand fashion at the Sham Film Festival this Friday and Saturday (September 25 and 26) at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7487 or www.webster.edu/film-series). At this hilarious fest, enjoy the works of filmmakers who've been given carte blanche to satirize and spoof everything from cheesy reality TV to overly dramatic movie trailers. The filmmakers here (professionals, students, hobbyists, dilettantes) are competing for the coveted Palm'd Oar, the festival's big prize. The festival opens with a selection of short subjects at 7 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday; feature films Bloodsucking Bastards (8:45 p.m. Friday) Kittens in a Cage and Dude Bro Party Massacre III (7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. Saturday, respectively) are also shown. Admission is $10 per screening, but single-day ($15) or festival passes ($30) are available. — Brooke Foster
If you enjoy the campy splendor of RuPaul's Drag Race, you'll want to be in the audience for the Miss Gay Gateway Missouri America Pageant. This annual event celebrating "the art of female impersonation" is the lead-up to the Miss Gay Gateway Missouri America Pageant. Meet special guest Kyla Breeze (Miss GGMA 2014) and cheer on your favorite contestant in categories including evening gown, onstage question and talent. Hosts for the evening are Karma T. Cassidy and Miss Gay Missouri America 2006 Jade Sinclair. The pageant starts at 7 p.m. tonight at the the Grey Fox Pub (3503 South Spring Avenue; 314-772-2150 or missgga.weebly.com). There is a $5 cover charge. — Brooke Foster
Turn the page for three more fun, free(ish) events this weekend.
Daring, sparkly, diverse, bad-ass and totally free are just a few ways to describe the St. Louis Small Press Print Expo. This year's expo takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at the Central branch of the St. Louis Public Library (1301 Olive Street; www.stlouissmallpressexpo.com). With more than 60 vendors from comic artists to zinesters, attendees can peruse hundreds of independently published and crafted books and comics, plus unique literary projects both local and national. Catch the screening of Root Hog or Die, a documentary about John Porcellino of King-Cat Comics & Stories fame. Attend a hands-on workshop in collage, bookbinding, pressure printing and more. Mingling with artists challenging the political landscape and gender norms? That's a Saturday well spent. DIY forever! Admission is free. — Angela Malchionno
The Strange Folk Festival, a fantastical handmade fair (www.strangefolkfestival.com), has followed its gnome mascot and trekked its way from the out-of-doors to St. Louis Union Station (1820 Market Street) — but that's really not so strange, is it? After all, crafters often take items that are unused (or underused) and reimagine them, making something new and wonderful and beloved. Plus, an indoor festival ensures the weather can't ruin the fun! From 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday (September 26 and 27), approximately 200 makers — artists, crafters and more — fill the former mall's retail spaces, while local bands play and food trucks park outside. Admission to the festival is free, but donations are encouraged and rewarded — you could net yourself a coupon, a T-shirt or another prize, depending upon how much you give to keep the festival's future dreams alive.# — Alison Sieloff
See also: 5 Things to Expect When Strange Folk Takes Over Union Station This Weekend
Finally, one more event to enjoy this weekend ...
6. Stuff your face at a celebration of all things barbecue
Barbecue lovers' taste buds will go hog wild at the inaugural Q in the Lou, a sizzling three-day fête of all meats sauced and slow-cooked. This festival of flavor offers sticky-fingered foodies an opportunity to pig out on plates created by nine of the nation's prominent pitmasters. In addition to live music and vendor booths, there are also tool demonstrations, a masters' competition for aspiring grillers, and four master classes curated by celebrity meat mavens Brad Orrison, John David Wheeler, Mike Emerson and Haley Riley, among others. Q in the Lou is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday (September 25 to 27) at Soldiers Memorial (Fourteenth and Chestnut streets; www.qinthelou.com). Admission is free, but you'll need money if you want to eat. VIP options ($75 to $164) are available. — Rob Levy