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Posted on: July 28, 2020

West City Park is now the Larry G Crites Memorial Park

park sign

Building began on the Peterein’s barn in 1933 and was completed in 1935.  It’s been home to farm animals, a dairy business, and countless barn dances.  Eddie Arnold is reported to have played there as part of a “barn dance circuit” in the ’40s.  The City purchased the barn along with 181 acres in 1981.  Al Brown was the Park Director at that time and the lake, which was put in by the 220th Engineering Co of the MO National Guard, is named for him. Construction of pavilions began shortly after the purchase.  During the first few years of the City owning the property, a haunted house was held on the grounds.  Visitors would take a haunted hayride through the park to the haunted house which was staffed and operated by City employees, volunteers, and members of the Festus Park Board.  The old “haunted” house burned in the late ‘80s.  The first Firecracker Festival was held in the late ‘80’s.  It’s been known as the Festus Firecracker Festival, the Tri-City Firecracker Festival, and now as the Twin City Firecracker Extravaganza.  Regardless of the name, the words “Firecracker Festival” bring to mind carnival rides, hot rods, fishing derbies, craft booths, fair food, and great entertainment.  This park has played host to cross country meets, soccer games, lacrosse games, horseshoe leagues, and too many baseball and softball games to count.  It has hosted local and legendary musical performers.  In 2017, 15,000 people traveled here to watch the Great American Eclipse from West City Park.  Larry Crites started working for the Festus Park Department in 1981 and has been a part of every event and activity that has taken place there since.  He has had a hand in the planning and construction of each pavilion that is there. Larry became the park foreman in 1989.  The complex was added in 1990 and includes 3 ball fields, a concession stand, and permanent restrooms.  This area is booked with practices, leagues, and tournaments from February to October every year. He was named Park Director in 1997. It is easy to see Larry in every corner of this park that he (with the help of others) built.  After almost 40 years of service and with retirement fast approaching, Larry suffered a fatal cardiac episode in May of this year.  This loss will be felt by the City, his friends and co-workers for years to come.  On Monday, July 27 with a strong recommendation from the Festus Park Board, the unanimous approval of the Festus City Council, and with the Crites family in attendance, the area formerly known as West City Park was renamed

The Larry G. Crites

Memorial Park.


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