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VIDEO: 'Let Them Eat Art' Brings Bastille Day to Maplewood

Maplewood's business district hosted fanciful entertainers and colorful costumes as crowds filled the sidewalks for the annual Let Them Eat Art festival.

Maplewood festival-goers got a break from the high temperatures that marked last year's Let Them Eat Art celebration with a perfect summer evening on Friday night.

The sidewalks of the business district were filled with shoppers and strollers enjoying the lively sights and sounds of the fanciful event, which was billed as "a self-guided tour of excitement and enchantment."

Belly-dancers and hula-hoopers drew small crowds of spectators, while other performers covered the musical spectrum from Motown Rhythm and Blues to Bayou Zydeco.

A face-painter transformed children into glittery wild beasts and various incarnations of Marie Antoinette lurked around every corner in anticipation of the evening's costume contest.

More than 50 local businesses pitched in to showcase Maplewood's range of offerings, some by hosting artists, others with sidewalk bars and buffets. The geographic scope of the festival expanded northward this year, with artists and a live band at the PNC Bank branch on Big Bend Boulevard. 

"As the event has grown, we've had more businesses sign up to participate," said Rachelle L'Ecuyer, community development director for the City of Maplewood.

"We change things around," she added, pointing out that this year there were more artists outside doing live art demonstrations.

The evening wound up with the judging and results of the "Don't Dream It, Be It" costume contest. Julie Strassman of Webster Groves took home the Best Overall prize for her Marie Antoinette Uncaged costume as well as clinching the People's Choice award for the third consecutive year.

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