The 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis was the largest ever. Sporting 12 giant exhibition buildings (focusing on topics from innovations in manufacturing to education and social economy), a campus of over 1,200 acres (covering Forest Park and parts of what is now Washington University in St. Louis, my alma mater), and an attendance of nearly 20 million, the 6-month long Fair was an epic event of its time. As I walked through the exhibit at the St. Louis History Museum, one facet of the fair particularly caught my attention - its purely temporary nature.
Festival Hall across from the Art Museum
Looking at the pictures of the fair, it appears that this amazing city within a city was put up right in the middle of St. Louis. Gorgeous facades lined every street corner of the Fairgrounds and the great basin provided waterway views for anyone coming to the fair. But it was all temporary - each of the buildings was made of rough wood frames covered in a substance called “staff” a mix of plaster and hemp that looks just like marble…for about 6 months...Then it starts to deteriorate and fall apart.
Before I knew the buildings were made of this temporary substance, I couldn't understand why St. Louis would produce such beautiful buildings just to knock everything down. As I realized that these buildings had been built to fall apart, I reflected on how the Fair informs our own lives. Each of us comes into this world as a temporary structure, like the buildings in the Fair. We meet millions of people along our journey and hope to instill some inspiration in a few of them if we're lucky. Just like most Fairgoers briefly enjoyed the experience of the Fair before returning home, many of our relationships are temporary connections that change as distance and time moves us apart. But the inspiration and growth that the Fair induced never goes away - just as our friendships continue to shape us long after parting ways.
On this trip through St. Louis, we got to connect with many of the people who have inspired us as we shared our time together in the city. At the Lake of the Ozarks, Neda & I got to hang out with my old college friend Matt McKeague and his girlfriend Michelle. We enjoyed lazy days on the Lake, tubing and catching up on old times.
At Double D's with Chris
In St. Louis, we met up with Chris Curtis and his girlfriend Alice Tseng, who took us out for a night of great fun at Double D’s bar. Then we had delicious Dim Sum with Neda’s old co-workers Mike & Don before heading out to O’Fallon, MO to spend time with Dave, Diana, and their new baby son Jake. Jake was a joy to be around and showered us with smiles and baby talk our whole time there! After O’Fallon, we headed South to have dinner and a night of catching up with Traci & Scott before we head off to meet up with our friends Meiku and Kuryo at the Missouri Zen Center tonight.
St. Louis has always been a place of meetings for us – Neda & I met here and the past few times we have visited we are always whirling through as we try to see everyone we had such a wonderful time with when we lived here. While the “St. Louis Fields Fair” is over for us for now, we look forward to coming back and seeing how everything has changed since the last visit! Next stop: Columbus, Ohio and more friends from St. Louis!
See the rest of the pics from this part of the trip by clicking here: