Vintage Market Days: Everything Old is New Again

Now in its third year, Vintage Market Days has become a favorite bi-annual event for thousands of area residents. Held each Spring and Fall in Chesterfield, this “upscale vintage-inspired indoor/outdoor market” features original artwork, antiques and vintage furniture, clothing, jewelry, crafts, home décor, outdoor furnishings, live music, a food court, plants and much more.

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This franchised pop-up market originated in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2011, and in six years has expanded to a staggering 60 cities across the U.S. The traveling bazaar of vendors, who are chosen for their shared affinity of nostalgia, offer a large selection of vintage inspired styles, ranging from steampunk to shabby-chic.

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A portion of the proceeds will benefit Tri-SAR, a search and rescue volunteer group dedicated to finding lost or injured persons.

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The festival runs October 20-22, with gates opening at 10 a.m. and closing Friday and Saturday at 5 p.m., and on Sunday at 4 p.m. Early-bird admission for Friday is $10, with Saturday and Sunday admissions at $5; children under 12 are free. Purchased tickets are good for the entire weekend.

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The event will be held at Chesterfield Mall near Sears. For more information, visit vintagemarketdays.com/market/st.-louis.

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Rx to relieve stress: Pet a cat at Mauhaus

DSC00678.JPGThere are any number of ways to reduce stress in your life. Yoga, meditation and exercise are just a few.

Or you can pet a cat.

The New York Times, Social Work Today and WebMD.com have all reported in the past about the benefits of interacting with felines. Stroking a cat’s back will chill you out since the act produces oxytocin, a hormone that reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The cat enjoys it, too.

So what to do if you’re full of stress but don’t own a cat? Maybe you’re a flight attendant or a CIA operative and thus away from home for days or weeks on end. After all, spies presumably face stress.

DSC00673.JPGMy advice is to head to Maplewood and Mauhaus Cat Cafe and Lounge at 3101 Sutton Boulevard. It’s basically a coffee shop—with cats. There are two staff cats, Lorelai and Taylor, and another dozen who are available for adoption. The cost to enjoy the company of the Mauhaus cats is reasonable, and far less than therapy.

The reservation fee is $10 per person for one hour in the lounge. It helps Mauhaus cover the cost of maintaining the cat lounge and caring for the cats. That fee also entitles you to a free drink and 20% off any food or additional beverages purchased.

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Mauhaus Cat Cafe owners Ben Triola and Dana Huth.

Mauhaus requires visitors to sign a release form, and they have a few rules. Most are geared toward protecting the cats. You may not pick up a cat or chase one. It’s ok to pet a cat, sleeping or awake, but it’s not cool to wake a cat up to engage it in play. And climbing on the walls is forbidden. To clarify, that rule is only for humans.

When I visited Mauhaus, about half the cats were napping, the others doing normal cat activities, like preening and stretching. Cheech, a skinny beige tabby, stretched out in the front window on his back and allowed a visitor to stroke his head. He seemed pretty relaxed, as did the gentleman doing the petting.

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Cheech.

Such is the attraction of a cat café. Being around self-confident animals seems to chill out the visitors. The space is a bit small, so Mauhaus limits the number of people in the café to 20 at any given time. You can reserve an hour visit in advance. Mauhaus also is available for parties or special events—again limited to 20 people.

And if you are smitten with one of the visiting cats from Stray Haven Rescue, they are all available for adoption. They are current on shots, and have been spayed or neutered, and microchipped.

For more information, visit mauhauscafe.com.

Eureka’s Invasion of the Scarecrows

For the fourth October in a row the city of Eureka presents their annual Scarecrow Festival, featuring hundreds of whimsical creations made from reclaimed materials and displayed throughout the town. Each scarecrow has its own unique personality and its own story.

The festival is the brainchild of local resident Barb Scheer, who recalls, “in 2013 I went on a girl’s trip to California and we went to Cambria, near Hearst Castle. As we went into this little town, they had over 300 of these types of scarecrows, all artistically done, and I just went nuts. I thought, ‘I have to bring this back to Eureka.’”

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She continues, “I came home and did research and there was nothing like it around. I put a presentation together and went to the Board of Alderman with it. It took us a while to convince them, but about 6 to 8 meetings later we finally got them on board and they gave us a grant.”

The first year of the festival featured 107 scarecrows on the streets of Eureka, with Barb personally crafting 54 of them. The program was an instant hit with residents and, as hoped, people throughout the region began visiting Eureka to see the parade of characters.

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For the last three years the entire festival was organized by Barb, who handled all of the marketing and administration, the registrations, monitored the website and the Facebook page, plus created most of the scarecrows with the help of several fellow artists. The tasks became too numerous, so she went to the Mayor of Eureka and said “I’m going to have to give it up, I only have a handful of women and I can’t do all of this myself.” The Mayor and Chamber agreed to take on the marketing and administration in 2017, leaving Barb and her team to focus on the construction and maintenance of the scarecrows.

Barb admits that she never had an art lesson in her life, but she loves the visual arts. As a mother of small children she took on the hobby of painting wall murals and managed to develop very admirable and capable skills. Barb worked in sales, marketing and event planning for many years and for the last ten years handled all of the major events for Belden Incorporated. Her work background made her a natural when it came to managing this immense project.

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Barb Scheer & Friend

The Farmers and Merchants Bank in Eureka provides a basement workspace and storage area for the scarecrows, where they are created, cleaned, dressed, restored and housed for most of the year. The artists work year round on this project, and a visit to the workspace reveals an army of scarecrows in various stages of construction. Almost all of the materials come from local garage sales and donations, and any item that needs to be purchased is usually found online at the lowest possible price.

Older scarecrows from past years are cleaned, redressed and sometimes re-fashioned into new characters for the coming year. Other favorites, like “The Ugly Bride,” will return for another year of service.

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Any business, organization or school in Eureka has the option of creating their own scarecrow, renting a scarecrow, or having a custom scarecrow created by Barb’s team of volunteer artists. Participants can also opt to rent a scarecrow for $100 and, as Barb explains, “it has their business name and information on it. (Renters) don’t have to put it up, they don’t have to take it down, they don’t have to maintain it, and it goes away at the end (of October).”

A custom scarecrow will cost $200, which includes a planning meeting with the commissioner, creation, installation and maintenance. This year Barb advises that there will be close to 200 scarecrows on display and hopes that each year the number will continue to rise. She is constantly thinking up new ideas, or seeking inspiration online.

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The public will have a chance to vote for their favorite Scarecrow on the festival’s website. The City of Eureka has several events planned around this year’s festival, with a Photo Scavenger Hunt October 6-8, a Witches and Warlocks Walk October 13 and an Artisan Fair on October 14.

Full details can be found at eurekascarecrowfestival.com.

Zombie Road – Hauntings on the Meramec

As fall comes to our land and temperatures drop and leaves unmask their true colors, previously hidden by that green bully chlorophyll; as thoughts turn to hayrides and pumpkins; as fire becomes a warming friend; as we bring in our bountiful harvest; as we crack out the flannel and those undergarments that have a purpose; as we cool down from summer’s fever, there is but one burning issue on our collective minds.

Terror.

Frightening, paralyzing, debilitating terror.

It’s fun!

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Take the kids out to a haunted house so they can wet themselves!

Dress them up as specters in the night!

Accrue thousands of dollars of future psychiatric needs!

But whatever you do, don’t go to Zombie Road.

Or do. We at STLCountyArts aren’t judgy about stuff like that. Just be warned.

Here’s the skinny: Zombie Road might be that place where the guy with the hook for a hand scrapes it across the top of your car while you’re, as Chuck Berry used to say, trying to unfasten that “safety belt.”

Zombie Road might feature an old lady screaming at you from the porch of her dilapidated house. (Though, it is Missouri and that could happen almost anywhere.)

Zombie Road might hold the ghost of a man killed by a train, or Confederate soldier hauntings, or the ectoplasmic residuals of a person who committed suicide from a bridge there. But, curiously, there appear to be no Zombies. Or maybe there are but they just have a poor press agent.

We don’t know!

Here’s what we do know: Zombie Road, or Lawler Ford Road, is about two miles long, winding through a dense valley of oak-wooded hills. It ends near the Meramec River in the Glencoe area where it meets St. Louis County’s decidedly non-haunted (so they say) Al Foster Memorial Trail.

The Rue de Zombie has a long history, starting as a Native American path through the area. As civilization encroached, the path became a road, and was picketed by St. Louis militia supporting the Union as Confederate forces tried to sneak through. Though accurate records fail us, we are told death came to many! Also bringing death: the railroad that pressed through the area, the quarries that drove the necessity of the railroad, and the Meramec River itself!

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Spooky!

Death!

Ghosts!

The road has garnered national attention from paranormal investigators and phantom chasers of all types and is regarded as one of the spookiest places in Missouri , impressive as we also have the Lemp Mansion, Pythian Castle and the hipster hauntings of Cherokee Street! But, aside from haints sporting mustache wax, Zombie Road is listed as one of the “Top 10 Most Haunted Places in Missouri” and has been featured in the paranormal documentary “Children of the Grave.”

Against her vigorous protests, we sent Valerie Tichacek to take photos of the area for your viewing pleasure. From her room at the local “rest home” and the comfort of her arm-strapping garment, she has assured us that “it wasn’t that spooky.” At least that’s what we think she said as it’s very difficult to talk with that “Silence of the Lambs” face mask thing on.

This is normally the part where we tell you how to get there, but our crack law team at Dewey, Cheatem and Howe have advised toward discretion. Look for Glencoe (wink) and Al Foster Trailhead (wink wink) and if you get wet, you’ve gone too far.

Disclaimer: the only presence we know for sure you will encounter is police and park rangers, especially if you venture out past closing time, which is 30 minutes after sunset.

Boo!

Photos by Valerie Tichacek

Chesterfield Valley Pumpkin Patch opens for first season

Each weekend in October, the Chesterfield Valley Pumpkin Patch celebrates the onset of autumn with a wonderland of activities for the whole family. The grounds feature a large display of mums, pumpkins and gourds, with sizes ranging from tiny to gargantuan.

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Since the early 1950s, Chesterfield Valley has been known as the go-to place for Fall and Halloween weekend activities. The renowned Rombach Farms hosted a large pumpkin patch each October for decades and became a yearly tradition for several generations of school children and their families. This past July, the owners announced that the farm would be shutting down and that there would be no pumpkin patch this year. In a Facebook posting, the owners expressed, “We want to thank everyone for all of these years of fun…. lots of great memories!”

Having been one of Rombach’s activity contractors for the past 20 years, Betty Miller was approached and asked to manage a new pumpkin patch, hosted by the City of Chesterfield.

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For $18 kids can get a wristband which entitles them to all activities for the day. Attractions include hayrides, pony rides, train rides, a duck pond and dozens of large, colorful Halloween inflatables. The fun doesn’t stop there however, as youngsters can participate in face and pumpkin painting, sand art, visit the petting zoo or play in a pit filled with corn kernels.

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Admission is free for adults, for whom the facility provides a wine and beer garden with craft beers and live music. Fall foods are available for everyone and will include favorites like caramel apples, kettle corn, funnel cakes, nachos, turkey legs, chili, apple cider, hot chocolate and much more.

The Pumpkin Patch is located on 9 acres next to the St. Louis Premium Outlet Mall on Olive Street Road. They are open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. thru October 31, but please note that activities are only scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays. There is plenty of free parking and free shuttle service available. Special packages are available for birthday parties and corporate events.

For more information, visit: chesterfieldvalleypumpkinpatch.com.