Metro-East Living

Sample fun soda flavors in Okawville

Antique soda bottles will be on display as part of the Okawville Soda Festival Saturday and Sunday during the town’s Heritage Days.
Antique soda bottles will be on display as part of the Okawville Soda Festival Saturday and Sunday during the town’s Heritage Days.

Million Dollar Grape and Gooey Butter Cake are just two of 18 soda flavors you can sample this weekend at Okawville Soda Festival.

It’s part of Okawville Heritage Days that include old-fashioned games for kids, crafts, flea market, live entertainment, country store, community yard sales and home-cooked food. Museums will be open for touring, too. Don’t miss the baked bread. Vintage soda bottles will be on display.

The town got the idea for the soda fest from another town.

“We wanted to try something new,” said organizer Donna Rabenort. “Homer (in eastern Illinois) has a soda festival. Five thousand came.”

Okawville is hoping for a good turnout, too.

Here’s how the Soda Festival works. You can taste 18 flavors of old-fashioned, pure cane sugar sodas made and bottled by Excel Bottling Co. in Breese (famous for its Ski soda). Tastes are 25 cents each. For $5, you can be a VIP Soda Taster, try all 18 and receive a souvenir glass. Proceeds go to Heritage House Museum.

Want to drink like a politician?

“Representative Charlie Meier takes soda up to Springfield,” said Donna. “I hear they like the Million Dollar Grape.”

According to Okawville soda history, many towns used to have “sodie” factories. Okawville Bottling Works, started in 1911, offered soda flavors that included Orange Julep, Crown Cola, Goo-Goo, Howdy, MP Root Beer, and an orange soda called "Smile." Bottles from Okawville Bottling Works will be on display. One is still full of the soda. Many old-fashioned, collectible soda bottles from various towns will be on display and available for purchase from 2 Brothers Antique Shop, of Nashville,

Excel uses cane sugar in its soda-making process, returnable bottles, and vintage bottling equipment. Clinton County’s favorite soft drink, Ski, was added in 1961 and accounts for the majority of soda produced. Excel is one of a few remaining “mom and pop” bottlers left in the nation and the only returnable bottling line left in Illinois.

The festival is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Schlosser Complex Historic Site, 114 W. Walnut, Okawville.

Get your kicks

A bike ride, 10k run, trolley tours, live music and a classic car cruise are part of Edwardsville’s Route 66 Festival on Friday and Saturday at City Park in downtown Edwardsville.

“The Edwardsville Route 66 Festival is entering its 19th year and I think it just keeps getting better and better,” said Katie Grable of City of Edwardsville Parks and Recreation. “This festival has brought so many great memories to the families of this commuity, and I encourage everyone to join us in making some more.”

The two-day festival kicks off Friday at 5. That 80s Band performs at 6:30; Platinum Rock Legends hit the stage at 9.

At 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Jay Almeter will perform a magic show, and at 2 p.m. kids are encouraged to bring their cardboard cars and be part of the Route 66 Cardboard Car Parade.

Saturday’s musical talent includes Mellow D’s at 2:30 p.m., Hurricane Ruth at 4 and Blackwater Revival at 6:30. Johhny Holzum and Well Hungarians take the stage at 9:30.

Illinois Week at Botanical Garden

Illinois Appreciation Week begins Sunday and runs through June 18 at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Illinois residents with an ID will receive $4 daytime admission (regularly $8) as well as a 10 percent discount in the Garden Gate Shop and Little Shop Around the Corner; plus a 20 percent discount off new or renewal memberships purchased that week.

On Monday, celebrate the 80th birthday of the Garden’s president emeritus, Dr. Peter Raven, with discounted admission. All visitors 13 and older will enjoy $.80 general admission from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Children 12 and younger are free. Meet Raven from 1 to 3 p.m. in Ridgway Visitors Center and sign his birthday card.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is located at 4344 Shaw Blvd. in south St. Louis, accessible from Interstate 44 at the Vandeventer exit and from Interstate 64 at the Kingshighway North and South exit. Free parking is available on site and two blocks west at the corner of Shaw and Vandeventer.

For general information, visit or call 800‑642‑8842.

Happy Days in Greenville

How far would you go to see TV’s “Happy Days” stars Anson Williams (Potsie), Donnie Most (Ralph Malph) and Erin Moran (Joanie)?

They will hold court from 7 to 10 p.m. June 17, in the Greenville High School gym as the Greenville Graffiti Car Show presents “An Evening at the Diner.” The TV show, on from 1974 until 1984, presented an idealized vision of life in the mid-1950s to mid-1960s.

The event will include a celebrity Q & A, a costume and cast member lookalike contest, a ’50s music, dancing and a dance contest, games, and a special sneak peek from the Hard Road Theatre performance of the musical, “Happy Days.” The celebrities will sign autographs and have photos taken for a fee.

The $20 ticket includes refreshments. Burgers, hot dogs, chips and root beer floats will be served.

Tickets are available by mail to P.O. Box 283, Greeneville, or in person at Bradford National Bank, First National Bank and Watson’s. Tickets will also be available at the door.

Potsie, Ralph Malph and Joanie also will be at the 5th Annual Greenville Graffiti Car Show in downtown Greenville from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 18.

Registration for the car show is from 9 a.m. until noon with awards at 3 p.m. Cars and trucks from 1991 and older are eligible for judging. Entry fee is $15 for judging and $7 for display only. Dash plaques will be given to the first 150 registered.

Don Emde, a 1999 inductee into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, also will be on hand from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday to sign copies of his new book, “Finding Cannon Ball’s Trail.” The book tells the story of the May 2014 cross-country journey that Emde and a group of fellow motorcycle enthusiasts made to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the same trip made by Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker in 1914. Emde’s group stopped in Greenville during its trek.