The Fourth of July is backyard barbecuing, making home-made ice cream, parades, fire works, festivals, family and fun. Haven't made your plans yet? Check out the Kirkwood Lodge at the Lake of the Ozarks if you want a short getaway. Otherwise there is a lot to do around the Greater St. Louis area. Our food/travel editor Suzanne Corbett has some great barbecue sauce recipes in this article. She also suggests you get out the ice cream maker and she's got a few recipes for ice cream that's sure to put some pop in your firecracker day celebration.

Whether you go out or stay home, make the effort to mark our country's birthday in style. There are festivals and events all over our area for those who want to venture out. St. Louis has long been known for the backyard barbecue-- with the Cardinals game playing on the radio-- and featuring the hometown favorite meat: pork steaks. (Be sure to check out our article Tuesday: The Top 10 Tips for Barbecuing)

Hot Dog Eating Contest

For us the Fourth of July also involves the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island. Joey Chestnut & Sonya Thomas will battle it out to see who will win and defend their titles. Last year: Joey (men's division) - 68 hot dogs; Sonya (women's division)- 45 hot dogs. According to their website,, for the first time ever, Nathan’s Famous held qualifying events for the Fourth of July contest at Nathan’s Famous retail locations, state festivals, city centers and Major League ballparks including the towns of Brooklyn, NY; Las Vegas, NV; Boston, MA; Naples, FL; St. Paul, MN; Queens, NY, Miami, FL; Atlanta, GA; Pittsburgh, PA; Savannah, GA; Calgary, Alberta; the New Jersey State Fair at Meadowlands.

The top male and female finishers from each won a chance to compete at the ESPN televised finals which will air on ESPN July 4th at 11 AM Central. [ESPN 2 Live at 11 p.m. CT, ESPN tape delay at 12 p.m. CT.]

We've got you covered here with some samplings of goings on around the area and some great recipes for barbecue sauce by our food editor Suzanne Corbett and an article about ice cream as July is Ice Cream Month.

Fair St. Louis

Fair Saint Louis is three days of free family fun underneath the majestic Gateway Arch! It’s America’s Biggest Birthday Party. Live concerts under the Arch include Trace Adkins on July 4th, Bret Michaels on July 5th and Counting Crows on July 6th. There are activities for children of all ages at the Kids Zone and Cultural Stage. It’s five outstanding air shows featuring the best performers in the country. Fair St. Louis also includes the Freedom 4-Miler, Family Fun Run. the 136th annual VP Parade-- and  of course lots of fireworks..... click here to read more.

Scroll down for other festivals and parades. If you know of one we missed, please att it in the comments or email us at

Barbecuing: What’s Your Pick? Savory or Sweet Barbecue Sauce

By Suzanne Corbett, Food/Travel Editor

To sauce or not to sauce, that is the question. That’s the question that will be on many minds this July 4th weekend, one of the biggest barbecue days of the year. Whether to dry rub your barbecue or sauce is a controversy that’s been raging locally for about a decade thanks to folks at the Food Network and the St Louis Barbecue Society who has promoted the differences and the joys of barbecue.

As a native St Louisan I love sauce and lots of it. However, my Memphis friend wants his barbecue dry, with sauce served sparely on the side. Why? According to his and many other southerners if your ribs arrived covered in sauce the cook is trying to hide something. Depending on who’s barbecuing the point could be valid. But paranoia aside,
Most people are passionate about barbecue sauce. But what kind of sauce are you talking about?

“Eighty percent of the people in the Midwest like a sweet, lightly smoky tomato base sauce while in the South a spicier mustard base sauce is preferred,” said Bandana’s creator Rick White. “ What makes good barbecue sauce depends on where you’ll from and even then recipes will vary.”

Today Kansas City style sauces that have a sweet-tart tomato base with a touch of smoke and flavored with molasses or brown sugar has become the nation’s most popular barbecue sauce. Southern regions like mustard based barbecue sauces like South Carolina. However, the Carolina Low Country uses a traditional vinegar pepper spiced sauce that’s mopped on the meat as it cooks. The most unique sauce I’ve found is the North Alabama white barbecue sauce, a concoction of mayonnaise, cider vinegar, salt and pepper. This sauce is excellent on chicken and pulled pork.

According the National Barbecue Association (NBBQA) it’s not the sauce that makes good barbecue it’s how it’s cooked and the seasoning used in the dry rub. Certified Barbecue Judges are quick to note that if barbecued meats are cooked right no sauce is needed. Sauce then becomes an extra that simply makes a good thing even better.

When it comes to sauce it’s all about what you like. I encourage my culinary students to experiment and create making their own sauces. It’s a great way to add a little extra sizzle to your summer barbecues. To help get you started here’s a few of my favorite barbecues sauces. Each can work well no matter if you like to slather on the sauce or serve it on the side.

Alabama White Barbecue Sauce 
2 cups mayonnaise
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoons black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
lemon juice to taste
Mix all the ingredients together. Taste and adjust seasonings, then refrigerate over night. Brush on grilled chicken, turkey or pork. Also use as a table or dipping sauce. Makes about 1 1/2 pints.

Mustard Barbecue Sauce
2/3 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons butter
Combine all the ingredients together in a saucepan and simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 1 pint.

Cola Barbecue Sauce
1 cup cola (not sugar free)
1 cup spicy ketchup
1/4 cup steak sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
Mix all the above ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer five minutes. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes about 1 pint.

Spicy Smoky Barbecue Sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups tomato catsup
1/2 cup spicy tomato juice
1 teaspoon liquid smoke

Make all he above together in a saucepan. Simmer for 10 minutes over a medium-low heat. Store in refrigerate until ready to use. Makes about 1 1/2 pints

Make Homemade Ice Cream, It's National Ice Cream Month

By Suzanne Corbett

What do Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Regan have in common - a love for ice cream.

Jefferson is credited with popularizing ice cream at the White House along with Madison’s wife Dolly, history’s consummate hostess, who included ice cream on the menu at her husband’s 1813 inaugural ball. Skip jump 171 years forward to 1984, the year Regan obtained bipartisan support to establish July as National Ice Cream Month.

With such a star spangled past July is the prefect time to celebrate ice cream, in which I also include frozen custard. For the record books there is a difference between ice cream and frozen custard is that frozen custard is made in the French-vanilla style using eggs whites, which makes it lower in cholesterol as compared to ice cream. No matter which you prefer, thanks to the invention of the hand cranked ice cream freezer in 1843 ice cream have become a hallmark of July 4th celebrations and family reunions.

If you have never made ice cream or if it’s been years since you hand cranked a batch now’s the time to reestablish the tradition. Give it a try - and it doesn’t matter if you use an old-fashioned, hand-crank style freezer or the latest ice cream maker sold at gourmet stores. Just pick a recipe, mix and freeze for the best tasting homemade frozen treat ever. Of course, if you’re short on time and ingredients don’t fret. Stop by your local ice cream or frozen custard stand and celebrate.

Classic Vanilla Ice Cream
2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
dash of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups whipping cream

Ina large saucepan placed over a medium high heat, scald milk until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Add sugar and salt. Stir until sugar dissolves. Remove fro, heat and stir in vanilla and cream. Refrigerate mixture for 30 minutes to cool, the pour into ice cream freezer. Freeze according to directions issued by freezer’s manufacturer. Makes about 1/2 gallon.

Fresh Peach Ice Cream
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 ripe peaches
1 quart whipping cream
IN a 3 quart mixing microwavable bowl combine 1 cup sugar, eggs and salt. Blend until smooth, cover and microwave for 4-6 minutes on high until milk is scalded. Remove and cool to room temperature. Peel, pit and chop the peaches. Place peaches in a food processor with remaining sugar and pulse a few times to puree. Add peach puree and whipping cream to milk mixture and pour into Ice cream maker. Freeze according to ice cream maker directions. Make 1/2 gallon

Festivals and Parades

VP Parade - Thurs. July 4 - Parade starts at 9:30 a.m.
This year’s parade will begin at 14th and Olive Streets at 9:30 a.m. The procession will continue east on Olive Street passing such landmarks as the recently renovated St. Louis Public Library. From there, the parade will head north on Tucker Boulevard before turning east on Washington Avenue. Click here for more...

Webster Groves Parade and Community Days- Parade starts at 10 a.m. Thurs. July 4
Barbecue and Carnival : July 3 - 6
$25 Wristband Night: July 3 and 5
Family Night: July 3
Miss Webster Pageant: July 5, 7 pm
Parade: July 4 - 10 am
Fireworks: July 4 and 6, 9:30 pm 

St. Charles River Festival- Thurs. July 4 Parade starts at 10 a.m.
The parade begins at Blanchette Park, then makes it's way through historic St. Charles. From the park, the parade route goes left on Randolph, right of Kingshighway, left on Clark, then right along Main Street to the Lewis & Clark Boat House and Discovery Center.
July 4, 2013
10 a.m. - Parade
5 p.m. - Food booths & live music
9:20 p.m. - Fireworks

O'Fallon, Missouri Heritage festival- Thurs. July 4 Parade starts at 9:30 a.m.
July 2, 2013
5 p.m. - 10 p.m. - Family night

July 3, 2013
5 p.m. - Festival opens
6:30 p.m. - Josh Kelley
8:45 p.m. - Jack Ingram
10:15 p.m. - Fireworks

July 4, 2013
9:30 a.m. - Parade
12 p.m. - Festival opens
5:30 p.m. - Cowboy Mouth
8 p.m. - Spin Doctors
9:30 p.m. - Fireworks

Kirkwood Freedom Festival- Kirkwood Park

July 4 music at 7 p.m. fireworks following

Chesterfield Mall

7 p.m. - Activities  begin
9 p.m. - Fireworks

Ferguson Family Festival - Parade July 4 10 a.m.
10 a.m. - Parade
12 p.m. - Opening ceremonies
9:15 p.m. - Fireworks

Hazelwood is doing fireworks July 5
White Birch Park at dusk

Wilson Park in Granite City is having a festival July 2-6
Fireworks July 4.

Let us know if you find out any of this information is wrong or if you want us to add your community's celebrations.

If you like articles like this follow @RobRains on Twitter.