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Larry Gerstein: Meet the Driving Force Behind 'Olivette on the Go'

This volunteer has made big community events highly successful.

There are some 7,500 residents in the City of Olivette. There is likely just one person you can call upon to volunteer his time on a regular basis for the welfare of the community.

That public servant is Larry Gerstein, owner of Championship Catering. Gerstein is always the first to raise his hand to run some kind of volunteer project.

When the guard changed from the Olivette SummerFest to Olivette on the Go, Gerstein took charge a year ago. A dozen years ago, the community badly needed a political action committee to fight for progressive redevelopment. Again, Gerstein stepped to the plate to lead the Olivette Community Connection (OCC).

Patch.com caught with Gerstein for a sit down interview. That's a rare occurrence because Gerstein is not inclined to sit and focus on discussion topics.

Patch.com: Larry, frankly without your leadership, it’s doubtful there would be an Olivette on the Go festival for the community.

Larry Gerstein: I just think this is something the city should have. It’s always been a tradition with the SummerFest. I wanted to continue that tradition and I formed a committee of people I know who share that interest in bettering the community.

As a committee, we decided the time of the year (third week in June) was too hot and we needed to move it to the fall (September 28-30 this year).

Patch: What other changes took place.

Gerstein: The first thing we did was tie it into the Ladue Schools. That didn’t work out last year. We decided we needed a big name band to show people that “Olivette is on the Go.”

Patch: What else happened.

Gerstein: We knew if we could get bigger sponsors, we could make this thing bigger and maybe profitable to bring better entertainment.

We found out after the first year, we were not creating something to bring people to Olivette, rather to reward people of Olivette with better things. We think about 80 percent of the people who come to the festival are from here. This is a community event, not a city event.

We are focused more on localized bands. Our big entertainer on Saturday night is St. Louis singer Erin Bode. I don’t know her, but people tell me she is great. I am really looking forward to seeing her perform.

We are bringing the kids to the festival to do Facebook things. The focus is all about the family.

We have a 5K race and family walk/run on Sunday that started last year, and it went over very well.

Patch: So this festival is a lot more than carnival rides.

Gerstein. Absolutely. Let’s talk entertainment. Friday night is Reggie who is an inter-active D.J. He’s hip hop and he’s got dancers. Erin Bode is Saturday and when the name was mentioned, people went crazy. Sunday night we have Stone in Love, a Journey tribute band.

Patch: Who is providing the food.

Gerstein: We have Fallon’s Bar & Grill; Miss Piggy’s; Talaynas; we have a lady providing organic ice cream cakes; Oberweis Dairy; Sombrero’s serving Margaritas and Tropical Snow Cones.

Patch: List your major sponsors.

Gerstein: Dobbs Tire, Allied Waste, Alpha Dental, Country Wide Financial, Fallon’s Bar & Grill, Juice Plus, Kriegshauser Mortuary West Chapel, Lake Side Exteriors, Lobo Direct, Patch.com, The Post-Dispatch, Murphy Co’s, Sun Rental, U. City Signs and Weber Chevrolet.

Creve Coeur-Olivette Chamber of Commerce September 04, 2012 at 03:18 PM
The Creve Coeur-Olivette Chamber of Commerce is looking forward to Olivette On Go when we will crown the next Chili Champion at the CCO Chamber's 2nd Annual Chili Cook-Off!
James Baer September 04, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Nice big cash prize for the winner too!

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