EDWARDSVILLE - Bands have been hired, vendor reservations are at capacity, and Friends of Leclaire are ready for Leclaire Parkfest, the organization’s annual party at Leclaire Park where they celebrate the history of their historic neighborhood. This year marks the 31st year for the festival that is always held on the third Sunday in October. The festival is set for October 15, from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Leclaire Park at 900 Hale Avenue in Edwardsville, Illinois.
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The festival will kick-off with music by the Gaslight Squares, a St. Louis band with a special blend of ragtime and jazz, followed by the old-time folk music of the Lodge Brothers at the band stand. These groups have become regular favorites of the festival. On the Madison Avenue side of the park, music will be provided by the band Hallquist, followed by Mike Keller and the Greater Good.
Sneaky’s Bar and Burger Joint will provide beer, wine and cocktails and food vendors offer many choices for visitors, including all the annual favorites. Curly fries, Italian beef, chicken and dumplings? There’s something for everyone.
Dozens of crafters, artisans, and non-profit organizations will offer a wide variety of handcrafted items for sale, everything from jewelry to tie-dye. The St. Andrews’s Relay for Life Book Sale brings thousands of used books at bargain prices, all to benefit the American Cancer Society. Vintage car enthusiasts can get up close with some classic vehicles on the Madison Avenue side of the park and, for animal lovers, there are pet adoptions and horses from the Mustang Sanctuary. In addition, there are children’s activity booths to entertain the little ones.
Narrated trolley tours of the Leclaire National Historic District will be offered on the half hour and a display of photographs highlight the history of the Leclaire National Historic District.
Leclaire was founded in 1890 by St. Louis plumbing manufacturer N. O. Nelson as a way to provide a better, more fulfilling life for his employees. It was a place in the country (clean air) where his company offered fair wages with benefits that included profit-sharing. Nelson encouraged home ownership, provided educational and recreational opportunities free of charge, and laid out the village so that it had a park-like setting. The company store was a co-operative, not a place to become indebted to the company as was the case for many company towns of the era. In addition to the N. O. Nelson Manufacturing Company factory buildings (now the Historic N. O. Nelson Campus of Lewis and Clark Community College), the village eventually included a school, a recreation complex with ballfields and a bowling and billiards hall, a Victorian-era park, and over 400 homes. Leclaire remained a separate village until being annexed by the City of Edwardsville in 1934.
2023 sponsors for the festival include the City of Edwardsville, Arbor Management, CNB Bank, Krause Properties, Leclaire Restoration LLC, Miller and Maack Contractors, the Law Offices of Keith Short, Creative Options Graphic Design, and Renewal by Anderson. Festival sponsors allow Friends of Leclaire to keep fees low for the many non-profit vendors that participate in Leclaire Parkfest.
For more information about the festival or to learn about the unique history of the Leclaire National Historic District, visit the Friends of Leclaire website at Historic-Leclaire.org, view the festival Facebook page, “Leclaire Parkfest,” or call 618-656-1294.
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