Things were looking mostly soggy about noon on Friday, Sept. 16 at Lakeside 370 Park, the site of the sixth annual Celebrate St. Peters, which was slated to get underway that day. The hard rain continued and the celebration didn’t start as planned.
But while the rain washed out evening activities, including two concerts featuring national recording artists Firefall and Orleans, the last day of the two-day celebration didn’t go down the drain.
Sunny skies on Saturday allowed for a full-day of celebration activities including concerts from Rogers and Nienhaus, and Randy Bachman. Despite the picture perfect weather on Saturday, wet grounds still had an effect – taking away as many as a half of the 4,000 parking spaces inside and outside the park. A shuttle bus also broke down.
“Luckily, we had a lot of patient people work with,” said Lisa Bedian, the city’s communication director who helped organize the event.
The turnout wasn’t as high as anticipated, but Bedian said there may have been as many as 10,000 people in the park for the main stage concerts and as many as 15,000 people visited the park that day. There also may have been some confusion, because some people may have thought the two-day event was canceled.
Bedian said the event had never been canceled or rained out until this year, although some concert times had been shuffled due to weather concerns. Rain storms in mid to late September are generally rare, she said.
However, this year, Friday’s storms were enough to force cancellation not just of Celebrate St. Peters, but also other area events such as the Forest Park Balloon Race.
“The rain really messed up a lot of stuff,” Bedian said. About an inch of rain had fallen by noon Friday on the park grounds with more to come. A steady train of showers followed Interstate 44 north into the St. Louis area. “When you see that, there is no sense in fighting it. At noon we were able to cancel,” Bedian said.
The cost of the cancellation is still being analyzed. The city had to pay fees to bands scheduled for Friday, but the vendors were happy about Saturday’s turnout and the carnival was busy. One area of loss was in libations. “We didn’t sell as much beer,” Bedian said.
Meanwhile, the city’s Board of Aldermen and Mayor Len Pagano praised Bedian and city staff for how they handled the rainout and the celebration. City staff are expected to meet to do a post-mortem on the even as they move toward next year.
“I started planning a month ago,” Bedian said, just days after the 2016 event.