Forest Park knows how to have fun.

And fun is good business.

Here are two good and distinct examples.

Last weekend, three of Forest Park’s vibrant entrepreneurs worked together for an afternoon of cross-marketing magic on Madison Street. Flavour Cooking School, M. Santana boutique and Afkara Shoes bought their enthusiasm, their specialties and, most importantly, their mailing lists together to please their customers with two hours of noshing and fashion.

In the process, they exposed their efforts to each other’s customers in a subtle way that will bring long-term benefit to each business and to Forest Park overall.

Forest Park has consciously created a shopping destination in which the interplay among the many retailers and food emporiums is dynamic and essential. Most people don’t run to Madison Street because they need a fast pair of shoes or a cooking implement to prepare that night’s dinner. They come to Madison Street because it is a pleasure. It is a discovery and a diversion. They come because the shopkeepers are typically the owners, because the welcoming is sincere and the service is sensational.

The more individual merchants come together in varying mixes and matches to display their wares and their ways, the stronger the complex fabric of Madison Street becomes.

And then there is this Saturday’s RibFest, which-like the food and fashion show-is the third annual. Forest Park puts on good parties. And people far and near are starting to get the clear message that when Forest Park says it’s time for a party-ribs, an art fair, an ode to summer, the holiday walk or St. Pat’s Day-there will be good times.

That’s a powerful reputation to have. And it is one that has been built over years, event by event. While it should and does feel to a visitor that a Fourth of July spectacular or a Progressive Dinner just arrives full born for their entertainment, we know that each event carries a monster workload with snags just under the surface that have been stomped down and papered over by determined volunteers.

In a sluggish economy with folks more reluctant to whip out the plastic, Forest Park has put itself in a good position to prosper by understanding that shopping is meant to be fun.