Cultural Festivals mission is to present the highest quality cultural arts experiences in easy access environments. Cultural Festivals was founded in 1994 with the first presentation of the Saint Louis Art Fair. The Art Fair was immediately named Best New Show in the Country by the prestigious industry rating guide, The ArtFair SourceBook. Since its inception, the Art Fair has been consistently ranked in the top five outdoor fine arts shows in the nation, bringing national recognition to the St. Louis area. Free and open to the public this high quality visual arts exhibition also offers compelling performances, artist demonstrations, the Creative Castle (a hands-on participatory children’s art activity area) and the Art Studio (a hands-on art activity area for adults). The Saint Louis Art Fair draws over 150,000 people each year. In 2006, Cultural Festivals debuted a new festival, The Big Read. This free unique festival celebrates authors and promotes literacy. The Big Read features publishers, book-sellers, national authors, readings, book signings, panel discussions, workshops, demonstrations and an interactive children’s area with readings, costumed characters, and projects that engage the young reader. Partnering with local non-profit literacy groups, schools and libraries, The Big Read provides a platform for education, volunteerism and literacy promotion and has become a springboard for ‘bookish’ behavior. For example, American Heritage Dictionary conducts a define-a-thon and spelling bee, First Book St. Louis hosts a speed read competition, and The Center of Contemporary Art (COCA) provides teenage actors to read from popular children’s books that are featured in a family theatre series presented at COCA simultaneously. Named one of the Top Ten Happenings in 2006 by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Big Read continues to excite with well known author appearances and innovating programming. In just three short years The Big Read has attracted several name authors from around the country such as Alan Alda, Jack Canfield, Tess Gerritsen, Carl Bernstein, Scott Phillips, Diane Mott Davidson, Sebastain Junger, Scott McClellan, Dorothy Hamill and many more. The Big Read festival attracts 5,000 plus attendees. Cultural Festivals events have become anticipated annual events in St. Louis, enhancing the quality of cultural life, generating tourism, and boosting civic pride.