It's almost here – St. James' pride and joy – the Grape & Fall Festival.
The 80th annual event, themed "Proud of the Past, Poised for the Future," is scheduled for Sept. 4-7, 2013.
"This is one of St. James' most celebrated events and is well-attended," said St. James Chamber of Commerce Director Dawn Thompson. "It's the last big hurrah before school really gets going, and it's a really good time for people to see old friends and family."
The festival kicks off with the queen pageant, which began in 1933 to celebrate the grape harvest.
The tradition began among the Italian grape growers in the Rosati community, whose daughters were among the first to participate in the pageant.
The winner of the pageant is crowned Miss St. James for one year.
Later in the week, attendees can enjoy carnival rides, along with wine and beer tents throughout the area.
Vendors such as Meramec Winery and St. James Winery are on hand with their award-winning spirits to share with the thousands of visitors, many of whom have traveled hundreds of miles to attend.
Other events include the ever-popular parade, live music, the street market, a kids race, livestock shows, a tractor pool, a demolition derby and much more.
This year's featured music group is the Link Family Band Thursday evening, Sept. 5.
A favorite for many is the festival street market, which is held Saturday, Sept. 7, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on the plaza.
"It's been going on for so many years," she said. "People come into town to see their family and friends because you get to see a lot of people that you haven't seen in a long time. It's always a good time and a lot of fun."
The deadline to enter the pageant was Tuesday, but there is still time to participate in the festival and become a sponsor.
Forms for parade floats, bikes and vendor booths are available online at www.stjameschamber.net and at the St. James Tourist Center office. All parade forms must be submitted by Sept. 1. Vendor forms must be submitted by Aug. 15.
Sponsorship levels for this local event range from $250 (silver sponsor) to $2,000 (platinum sponsor). Only chamber members are eligible to be sponsors of the event.
The deadlines for sponsorships and advertising for the annual Grape & Fall Festival Magazine is Aug. 1.
For more information, call the Chamber of Commerce at 265-6649.