Enjoying ‘Life Outside’
Great Rivers Greenway Life Outside festival provides the community free exploration of outdoor activities
By Charlotte Beard
Great Rivers Greenway has not only been a catalyst for connecting the community to sites around the region whether on foot or on wheels, but since 2016 the agency has been connecting members of the community who provide free exploration of outdoor activities at its annual festival. The free festival removes the excuse of not being able to invest time and money into an activity that a person might discover is not appropriate for them.
This year’s Life Outside festival with live music, will take place Saturday, Sept. 21 on the St. Vincent Greenway in St. Vincent County Park in north St. Louis County. The festival begins at 10 a.m. and concludes at 4 p.m. The best way to reach the festival area is by entering on the side closest to Incarnate Word Academy at 2788 Normandy Drive in St. Louis. The academy will be the only available parking for the event (no St. Vincent parking), with exception to people who have disabled license plates or a placard. Those parking at the academy will be able to walk across the field to the event site.
“Life Outside is a chance for people of all ages, abilities and interests to get to know our region’s greenways and the many ways they can enjoy the outdoors,” stated Elizabeth Simons, Community Program Manager for Great Rivers Greenway. “People can explore the St. Vincent Greenway and try activities such as birdwatching and hiking to decide first-hand if this is something they want to make part of their lives.”
The Sierra Club Eastern Missouri Group will be providing hiking tips to attendees along with facilitating walks throughout the park and the Audubon Center at Riverlands will provide guided bird walks with binoculars various times throughout the day. For those who desire other walking activities, Great Rivers Greenway is facilitating guided walks at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Anne Milford, Communications Coordinator for Great Rivers Greenway shared, “(We are) leading ‘Get to Know the Greenway’ walks to talk about the history, the ecology, the nature history and the communities along the greenway.”
In addition to the walking activities, among the many options (listed online) will be biking, competitions, mock and simulation activities and classes.
“What’s really cool is that (there will be) different bike rides,” stated Milford. “You can try the cyclocross or you can do a regular guided tour of the greenway. Oasis’ goal is to promote healthy aging – they will be (facilitating) a bike ride. So, you (somewhat) have all speeds.”
Alpine Shop will be at the festival with their strider bikes for kids. The bikes themselves do not come with pedals but are balancing bikes to help prepare kids for regular bike riding. The Big Shark Bicycle Company will be facilitating cyclocross (a unique form of bike racing) for ages 13 and up, and simple bike riding for others as part of a tour on the St. Vincent Greenway. Bikes for usage during these two events will be provided by Big Shark. Oasis participants must bring their own bikes.
For those who want to fish and don’t mind some competition, St. Louis County Parks will facilitate a fishing competition and others may enjoy Hidden Valley’s ski and snowboard simulations. The simulation opportunities will be available throughout the day and is open to all ages.
AmeriCorps of St. Louis will be conducting a mock Wildland Firefighting Pack Test to allow participants to dress up in some of the gear and engage in a firefighting scenario. This activity is open to participants ages 18 and up who are wearing closed-toed shoes.
One of the main goals in having the Life Outside festival on one of the greenways is to show people how to use the greenways to their advantage.
“We encourage people to use the greenways,” stated Milford, “to get around town or combine it with (using) Metro Transit. Metro Transit will be there all day with their mock front of the bus/bike rack to show people how to load their bike onto a bus, so they can use the bus and greenway to get around town.”
The festival will provide a host of classes/learning opportunities. In addition to St. Louis County Parks’ fishing competition, they will teach people about gardening. The Missouri Master Naturalist will be at the festival to teach kids about various plants and animals found in Missouri. Also, The St. Louis Astronomical Society will bring a telescope to engage participants in sun-viewing and “planet-finding in the night sky.” In addition, to help attendees learn the different types of trees commonly found in St. Vincent County Park and Missouri, the Missouri Department of Conservation will conduct a tree scavenger hunt throughout the day. An additional scavenger hunt will be facilitated by Terrain Magazine.
In addition to the story-time and games for kids, Milford shared that Pine Valley Outfitters will have a hammock hang out area and Gateway to the Great Outdoors will be roasting marshmallows all day.
There will be 18 different bands performing throughout the day. Visit www.livelifeoutside.org and then go to ‘Things to Do’ for the complete line-up.
“We’ll have three stages set up along the greenway throughout the festival grounds,” shared Milford. “So, we encourage people to bring a lawn chair or picnic blankets. Pack a picnic so then you can go try some activities. Then sit down and relax and enjoy some great live music.”
Three food trucks are currently scheduled to be at the festival for those who wish to purchase food and beverages: Kona Ice, Wing Nutz and Wayno’s International.
A parent/legal guardian is required to register and sign a waiver for attendees under the age of 18, which is included in the registration packet. Attendees are encouraged to pre-register online at www.livelifeoutside.org. Attendees can pick up festival packets (wristband and festival day information) at the Great Rivers Greenway Visitor Center located at 6178 Delmar Blvd. Sept. 16 – 20 or pick up their packet at the festival. Milford anticipates that those who pre-register will be in a shorter line the day of the festival.
“This is a really great opportunity for people to see, try, and learn all the different things they can do outside,” stated Milford. “It’s a great free family-friendly day for people across the region. We encourage people to make a day of it. And it won’t cost you anything, unless you buy something from the food trucks.”
For those who do not desire to drive to the festival, Great Rivers Greenway has provided several options with directions, for making great use of the greenway by coupling it with Metro Transit usage or usage of the free Life Outside shuttles. For complete details visit: https://greatriversgreenway.org/getting-life-outside.
CUTLINE: Submitted photos This year’s Life Outside festival will take place Saturday, Sept. 21 on the St. Vincent Greenway in St. Vincent County Park in north St. Louis County.