The city of St. Louis celebrated its 250th birthday in February of 2014. It all started with the Burnin’ Love festival, which took place on Forest Park’s Art Hill on February 18. Several festivities and celebrations followed, including Fair St. Louis. This was the year that the fair made the big move to Forest Park (at the Grand Basin and Art Hill) from the Jefferson Memorial Expansion Park.
And then, there were the cakes…. the first one being placed at St. Louis City Hall. One by one, little by little, they were placed throughout the region. People started to wonder, and then people got addicted. Several people went to the stl250 website and started to look at the list and plot their journeys. Pictures were taken with their family, pets, etc. The 250th cake was placed in late July at Lafayette Square Plaza. The final cake (Reunion) was unveiled at the First Night celebration on December 31.
Some groups were formed on Facebook, including the (unofficial) STL250 Cakeway to the West. It was started by Francine Case, who originally started it to see other people’s photos of the cakes around St. Louis. At the time, Francine didn’t think she would be able to visit all of them so she let the cake-hunters do the virtual trips and post them to the group page. She invited all of her friends, then several people whom she didn’t know joined in. By the summer, hundreds were members of the group. The group had its 2,000th member by December. It is now in transition to its sister group (also created by Francine), the St Louis Cake Lovers.
By June, there were talks of organizing the first ‘cake-hunters picnic’. On June 29, 2014, several ‘cakers’ met at the Red Bud Pavilion at Blackburn Park in Webster Groves. Great times were had there. In mid-July, some cake-hunters joined in on Rich Brooks’ latest cake (at the time), which was the Youthbridge Cake. Some got to watch Rich paint it at the Soulard Art Market (SAM), and even got to contribute handprints! The cakers met again, this time at the Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park in East St. Louis on August 3rd.
On September 13th, some of the cakers met at the World’s Fare, which took place at Forest Park. There, the newly-born business, the STL250 Cake Lovers, sold some products for the first time there. In early October, some of us met at the Feasting Fox, where three of the cake artists joined us for dinner. November brought us good times at the AKC’s Museum of the Dog, where Lindsay Harmon organized a gathering for cake artists and enthusiasts.
Events for December were the great Trolley Tour, in which 30 of us (including 2 cake artists) took part on a cake tour along downtown and Soulard. Several photo opportunities and fun times were had on that tour! Afterwards, we had our own version of a Christmas party at SAM. And speaking of SAM, multi-cake artist Rich Brooks held a contest for cake-hunters and enthusiasts, called ‘Where’s the Cake?’. The applicants could send up to 3 photos (along with other rules) and many were chosen. The exhibit kicked off on December 12th and will continue to be display until January 17th. Also happening at SAM throughout December was the painting of the final cake, in which Rich Brooks called the ‘reunion cake’. At least a dozen cake artists participated, and on December 18, Rich invited the cakers to paint dots on the cake. That cake was unveiled at the First Night celebration (at the Nine Network Commons) on December 31st.
On December 15th, it was announced by stl250 that several of the places that had cakes would be auctioned off through the website, biddingforgood.com. The proceeds would go to beautify the Pierre Laclede statue downtown, which was placed there a century ago. About 80 or so cakes went up for sale. Several people bid on cakes, and there were a handful of winners. The auction closed right at the stroke of midnight on December 31. The Anheuser-Busch cake took top bidding honors, with $1,100!
Since 2015, cakers have continued to celebrate St. Louis and its rich history and culture. Several cakes are no longer available to be seen by the public, but the memories and pictures survive. Social media has helped re-create memories, especially with the StLouis250CakeLovers Facebook group. As of February 2018, there are an estimated 70-80 cakes still at their original spots, while there are some cakes that are scattered around the St. Louis area in different places.