Held in an oft-overlooked pocket of the riverfront, Artica's been hosting an annual arts festival just north of Laclede's Landing since 2002. Run by a board of directors with long histories within Artica's small, freewheeling organization, the event showcases a variety of on-site installations, generally built on a Friday for public enjoyment over a single autumn weekend. Every year, the event kicks off with Saturday's interactive Boat of Dreams Parade, in which attendees set compostable, floating totems into the Mississippi River; and it ends with Sunday night's The Burn of Our Lady of Artica, a controlled fire show setting alight the fest's largest temporary artwork. In between, there's a lot of time to roam through this old warehouse district, as you find art and art finds you.
By Monday, a few artists will be found at the grounds, breaking down their structures and displays, and after a couple more days, there's not a lot of evidence that the event happened at all. Save, of course, for the memories created by one of St. Louis' most-intriguing, long-running and public-participatory arts events. (This year's Artica will be held Saturday and Sunday, October 5 and 6, with an official, GPS-friendly address of 1322 Lewis Street. Or just look for the friendly weirdos and you'll be there.)