by Mabel Suen
Friday (September 16):
Balloon Glow @ Forest Park Take advantage of the swift shift in seasons by getting out and enjoying the crisp, cool air during this favorite romantic annual opener. The inflated balloons, lit by their burners, provide the perfect backdrop for an evening picnic. Not enough time to pack your own? Refreshments and food are available. The evening concludes with a fireworks display at 9 p.m. Free. Event begins at 7 p.m.
Third Friday Party @ Third Degree Glass Factory Third Degree responds to the Forest Park Balloon Glow with a glowing event of its own. This month's open house features applejack cocktails, tapas-style plates ranging from $2 to $8 each, hands-on classes for $20 to $30, fire spinning, gallery viewing, live music and more. Free admission. 6 to 10 p.m.
Best of Festival @ Broadway Oyster Bar Along with the soundtrack of bands including Aaron Kamm and the One Drops and Superjam, this popular downtown destination features at least ten of their most popular specials including cajun seafood boil, crab-stuffed filet, BBQ oysters, naked gator tacos and more, in addition to the regular menu. Grab some seafood plates while they're hot! Doors open for the festival on Friday, Sept. 16 at 6 p.m. and Saturday Sept. 17 at 12 p.m.
Saturday (September 17):
Greater St. Louis Hispanic Festival 2011 @ Soldiers Memorial Park Take a siesta and attend this annual fiesta featuring Latin American food, drinks (margaritas, anyone?) and arts and crafts from various countries. Enjoy folk dances and much more downtown this weekend. Free. Friday Sept. 16 and Saturday Sept. 17 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday Sept. 18 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Italian Festival @ Uptown Collinsville, IL Head just eleven miles east of St. Louis for all kinds of tasty treats, including Italian ice, gelato, Italian wings, toasted ravioli, meatball subs and more. The annual tradition is more than 25 years strong and shows no signs of stopping. Free admission. Festivities begin Friday, Sept. 16 at 11 a.m. and Saturday, Sept. 17 at 8 a.m.
HOP in the City Festival @ Schlafly Tap Room Sample more than 40 styles of Schlafly Beer, including the festival beer for this year: Spicy Golden Ale. Tickets are $35 at the door and include beer samples, a commemorative glass, a tasting guide and live music. Food is available at an additional cost. Noon to 5 p.m.
Oktoberfest Party @ Global Brew Tap House Oktoberfest started in mid-September at this Edwardsville hot spot, which features more than a dozen imported German and special Oktoberfest beers on draft, Bavarian pretzels, Wiener schnitzel and spaetzle. The celebration begins at 11 a.m.
Sunday (September 18):
The 2nd Annual Food & Farmers Expo @ Webster Groves Recreation Complex For a wealth of sustainable knowledge this weekend, check out the scheduled talks and events along with 50 booths offering food and drink samples at this Healthy Planet event. Learn how to harvest homegrown herbs, dehydrate and can goods, cook with fresh local ingredients and more. Adult admission is $5 and kids under sixteen are free. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Brunch Cruise @ Gateway Arch Riverboats Take a brief September staycation by trying out a Sunday brunch cruise aboard a Gateway Arch Riverboat. The food-stocked ship sets sail for one last time this season, equipped with an extensive buffet line featuring everything from cheese blintzes and French toast to carved prime rib and pasta. Get a glimpse of the St. Louis skyline to the tune of live Dixieland music during your moving meal. Call 877-982-1410 to make reservations. $38 for adults and $18 for children ages 3 to 12. 1 to 3 p.m.
Greentree Folklife Festival @ Kirkwood Park More than 40 artisans demonstrate crafts, wares and day-to-day life circa the 1700s and 1800s. See blacksmiths, visit with rope and rug makers, and chow on old-style chicken'n'dumplings, root beer, ham and beans or ice cream. Free. Sept. 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.