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Evolution Festival rocks Forest Park smoothly, will return in 2024

Music fans gathered at Forest Park for the inaugural Evolution Festival over the weekend.

Sam Shapiro Media
Music fans gathered at Forest Park for the inaugural Evolution Festival over the weekend.

The inaugural Evolution Festival in Forest Park drew an attendance of 25,000 across two days over the weekend.

After heavy rains and several nearby lightning strikes held up the start of the festival on Saturday, the event ran smoothly, with artists able to play their full sets.

Event producers reported no disturbances or medical incidents beyond a few bee stings and falls. In the days leading up to the event, some festival workers did receive fluids intravenously to avoid dehydration as they endured intense heat and humidity.

Organizers consider the festival a success.

“I think people needed to see what we were going to do this year. I wanted three things: make the artists happy, make the city proud, and make the fans want to come back for next year,” said co-executive producer Steve Schankman. “We did what we wanted to do, which was give something to St. Louis.”

Performers included the Black Keys, the Black Crowes, Brandi Carlile, Sugarhill Gang, Ice Cube and Brittany Howard. Festival specialist Joe Litvag produced the event alongside Schankman.

Evolution Festival will donate at least $25,000 to Forest Park Forever, the nonprofit organization that oversees the park. Its representatives worked with festival planners to prevent it from interfering with the other activities happening throughout the park. One key modification was to cut off vehicle access to roads in the north part of the park to make room for festival business. Signs at the Missouri History Museum and elsewhere advised festivalgoers not to park there.

“From what we saw, everything went really well,” said Dominik Jansky, director of communications and marketing for Forest Park Forever. “There’s a long tradition of music events in the park and room for it, too.”

Jeremy is the arts & culture reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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