The year was 1981, and St. Louis businessman Robert R. Hermann knew he wanted to unite the people of St. Louis. At the time, Downtown St. Louis was growing at a rate that hadn’t been seen since the early 1960s and there was a prime opportunity to put the Gateway City on display for the whole world to see.
With the help of fellow business folks, civic leaders, and over 1,000 eager volunteers, Hermann’s vision was realized over Fourth of July weekend in 1981 with St. Louis’ first three-day V.P. Fair — and what better setting than right under the majestic Gateway Arch?
That year, more than a million people gathered on the riverbank with their acid-wash jeans, drinking caps and guitars to celebrate America’s independence. Over the following years, everyone from George H.W. Bush to The Black Eyed Peas would participate in the festivities.
Fast forward to 2014 and the fair (which was renamed “Fair St. Louis” in 1994) was pushed out of downtown and into Forest Park because of construction at the Arch Grounds. And while Forest Park is undoubtedly one of St. Louis’ most iconic spots, the collective nostalgia for fireworks under the Arch never truly went away.
But this year, Fair St. Louis is making its much-anticipated homecoming.
“Obviously, we had a terrific 4 years in Forest Park watching our wonderful Arch grounds undergoing renovations,” said James Boldt, General Chairman of Fair St. Louis. “With the grand opening of the Museum in 2018, it’s only fitting Fair Saint Louis returns to its original home. We are delighted to help the new Gateway Arch National Park usher in this new and exciting chapter.”
After four tireless years of redeveloping the Gateway Arch National Park, ‘America’s Biggest Birthday Party’ is finally getting back to its roots. St. Louisans and visitors from around the world will once again experience the customary live music, delicious food, and magnificent fireworks under the iconic Gateway Arch.
So, welcome back to downtown, Fair St. Louis. We may have traded our drinking caps for GoPros, but we couldn’t be happier to have you home.