Now that the ice and snow are but a faded memory, we’re game for some sun on our face and some splendor in the grass. Some cultural splendor, that is. Lay down Grandma’s patchwork quilt, pop a squat and enjoy a smorgasbord of plays, concerts and festivals.
Are the Stars Out Tonight?
Heart of America Shakespeare Festival
This year marks the 15th anniversary of Heart of America’s performances at Southmoreland Park (47th Street and Oak). This year’s season brings crowd favorite Romeo and Juliet. The season runs every night from June 19 through July 8 (excluding Monday, June 25, and Wednesday, July 4). General admission is free, but you can reserve seats up front for $15. Chair rental is also available. For more info, call the festival office at
The Theatre in the Park
Located in the northeast corner of Shawnee Mission Park (7900 Renner Road in Shawnee), this theater’s been putting on family-friendly musicals since 1969. Tickets for each show cost $6 for adults and $4 for kids ages 4-10 (children 3 and younger are free). Gates open at 7 p.m., and shows begin at 8:30 p.m. For more information, call 913-312-8841. The schedule:
· Fiddler on the Roof, June 7-10
· Thoroughly Modern Millie, June 15-17,
· The Music Man, June 29-30, July 1,
· Hello, Dolly! July 13-15, July 19-22
· Footloose, July 27-29, August 2-5
It’s a summer tradition for drama lovers to take in Broadway-caliber productions at Starlight (66th Street and Swope Parkway). Prices range from $15 to $75, and season passes are available. Purchase tickets online at www.kcstarlight.com, or call the ticket office at 816-363-7827.
· Burn the Floor, June 12-17
· A Prairie Home Companion, June 22
· Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, June 26-
· Sweet Charity, July 10-15
· The Wizard of Oz, July 23-29
Friday Night Flicks
It’s like the drive-in without the cars, at Crown Center Square, 2450 Grand. Shows start at 9 p.m. Call 816-274-8444 for more information.
· Rocky, June 29
· Singing in the Rain, July 13
· Field of Dreams, July 20
· Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,
Off the Wall
Every third Friday at dusk, downtown’s Central Library (14 West 10th Street) shows free movies on its scenic rooftop. This year’s theme is “Size Matters” — quirky and trusty flicks that will appeal to people big or small.
· Innerspace, June 15 (1987, a micro-
Dennis Quaid is injected into Martin
· King Kong, July 20 (the 1933 original
starring shrill but beautiful Fay Wray)
· The Fly, August 17 (the 1958 version
with Vincent Price)
· Time Bandits, September 7 (Monty
Python and little people collide in this surreal 1981 Terry Gilliam picture about a boy who teams up with a diminutive and motley crew to pillage history).
Sugar Creek Slavic Festival
Grammy-winner Brave Combo makes its triumphant return to this annual celebration of all things Slavic. Joining the group are Sugar Creek’s own Kolo Kids, the Ed Grisnik Group, the Strawberry Hill Croatian Ensemble and others. Included in the festivities: a children’s costume parade, polka dancing and a kielbasa sausage-eating contest. June 8 and 9 at Sugar Creek’s Mike Onka Memorial Building Grounds (11520 East Putnam). See www.slavicfest.com.
This tribute to the country shaped like a boot has new digs this year at Zona Rosa (Interstate 29 and Barry Road). Local crooner Rudy Amato, Sinatra aper Joe Viviano, wise guys the Five Gumbas and others perform while you devour authentic Italian cuisine from the vendors. UNICO, the nation’s largest Italian-American service organization, sells T-shirts and novelty items. The party starts at 5 p.m. Friday, June 8, and continues from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 9, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, June 10. Admission is free. See www.unico-kc.org.
Kansas City Scottish Highland Games
The Highlanders in Riverside, Missouri, put on their annual games at Riverfront Park (Northwest Argosy Parkway on the Missouri River). Highland dancers, sword fights and Clydesdales are just some of the attractions. Oh, and bagpipes, bagpipes, bagpipes. It takes place rain or shine, 6-11 p.m. Friday, June 8; and 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, June 9. Tickets cost $15 for one day or $25 for both; kids ages 6-12 get in for $5. See www.kcscottishgames.org.
This fest began in 2004 to commemorate Lewis and Clark, who celebrated the first Independence Day west of the Mississippi River in 1804. The KC Riverfest promises a more thrilling party than Meriwether and William had, with carnival rides, fireworks and extreme sports. It’s at Richard L. Berkley Riverfront Park (between the Heart of America and Paseo bridges at Lydia and Front), June 29-30. Tickets are $5 for adults, and kids get in free. Visit www.kcriverfest.com.
Johnson County Fair
Carnival rides, cotton candy, and a parade mix with 4-Hers vying to win top prize with their goats, rabbits and other livestock. It’s August 6-11, at the Gardner Fairgrounds (Gardner Road between Madison and Washington). Call 913-856-8860 or see www.jocokansasfair.com.
Ethnic Enrichment Festival
No passport necessary for sampling food, music, dance and folk art from more than 56 cultures at a festival that’s been around since the bicentennial. Check it out Friday, August 17, 6-10 p.m.; Saturday, August 18, noon to 10 p.m.; Sunday, August 19, noon-6 p.m. at the Swope Park Pavilion (Gregory and Elmwood Road). Admission costs $3 for adults; no charge for children or parking. See www.eeckc.org.
Kansas City Irish Festival
A three-day party at Crown Center Square (2450 Grand) with authentic Gaelic eats from area pubs, along with comedy, dance competitions and Celtic jams from popular local and national acts, including the Kelihans, the Elders, and the U2 tribute band 2U. Friday, August 31, 5-11 p.m.; Saturday, September 1, and Sunday, September 2, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Tickets cost $10 a day or $8 in advance. Kids 12 and younger get in free, and those 65 and older enter for $5. See www.kcirishfest.com or call 816-997-0837.
When this throwdown began 35 years ago, people dressed up like the Ingalls family from Little House on the Prairie to celebrate the Santa Fe, Oregon and California pioneer trails, which met in Independence. Now the bonnets and booties have fallen by the wayside, and the event is a giant Independence block party, with crafts, grub and music, including the rabble-rousing Locash Cowboys. Friday, August 31, through Monday, September 3, in downtown Independence (Main and Lexington). See www.santacaligon.com.
Shake, Rattle & Roll
Scads of granola kids flock to this anticipated music and camping festival June 7-10 at Clinton Lake (5 miles east of Lawrence). Rock acts with hipster appeal, such as Spoon and the Flaming Lips, have appeared at Wakas past, but this year’s lineup is predominantly hippie-centric. Standouts include Son Volt, Alejandro Escovedo, Les Claypool, and Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, as well as ubiquitous jam bands Widespread Panic and Medeski, Martin and Wood. For information and tickets, check out www.wakarusa.com.
Gladstone Summertime Bluesfest
Jimmy Thackeray and Bernard Allison are on the roster of local and national blues acts at this free event, June 8 and 9 at Oak Grove Park (76th Street and North Troost). See www.gladstonechamber.com.
Lyrics at the Library
Every summer, the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library’s Main Branch (625 Minnesota, 913-551-3280) turns its attractive outdoor pavilion into a wall of sound, inviting a diverse roster of acts to play for patrons and passers-by every other Wednesday at noon. Rocking the lunch hour at no charge:
· One-man junk band Jazzbo, June 13
· The Roman Numerals, June 27
· Jump ‘n’ jivers the Grand Marquis, July 11
· Last Free Exit, courtesy of KKFI 90.1,
Rhythm and Ribs Jazz Festival
Grammy winners George Benson, Al Jarreau and the Pat Metheny Trio are among the performers slated to appear June 15 and 16 at 18th Street and Vine. Barbecue is the other big attraction at this festival, where local grillers try to smoke each other in a quest to crown KC’s king of the ‘cue. See www.kcrhythmandribs.com or call 816-474-8463 for tickets and info.
Reggae By the River Festival
G’s Jamaican Quisine presents a two-day Rasta Fest June 16 and 17 at Richard L. Berkley Riverfront Park (between the Heart of America and Paseo bridges at Lydia and Front). National acts include Junior Reid, Yellowman and Ky-Mani Marley (son of Bob). Tickets, which cost $22 a day or $35 for both, are available at G’s (7940 Troost) or through Ticketmaster, 816-931-3330 or www.ticketmaster.com.
Jazz in the Woods
Last year’s jazz fest at Corporate Woods raised $100,000 for children’s charities, including Marillac and the Fox 4 Love Fund. Organizers hope to top that by bringing Latin jazz sensation Arturo Sandoval; Euge Groove, whose single “Chillaxin” was the No. 1 smooth jazz song of 2006; and sax blower Joseph Vincelli, who has played with Miles Davis and Ice Cube. The free concerts are June 22 and 23 at Corporate Woods, 9711 West 109th Street in Overland Park. For more information, see www.jazzinthewoods.com.
Country in the Woods
This companion to Jazz in the Woods presents country music at Corporate Woods (9711 West 109th Street in Overland Park) to raise dough for children’s charities. The free music festival on June 24 features honky-tonker Tracy Byrd as well as the Drew Davis Band and Candy Coburn. See countryinthewoods.net for more information.
The Crossroads at Grinders
Most of the seating room at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater is a concrete jungle. The only place to lay the blanket down is the fun but distant lawn section. We like our outdoor venues a little more organic, if you know what we mean. According to their Web site, the purveyors of the brand-spankin’-new Crossroads at Grinders (417 East 18th Street) like to think of their concerts as “kickass backyard parties for our friends.” Sign us up. In its first year, the substantial outdoor garden has booked perennial summer concert acts George Clinton and G. Love and Special Sauce, with crowd pleasers such as Lucinda Williams and the Rev. Horton Heat rounding out the calendar. The Crossroads also treats audiences to the occasional free show, such as ’90s buzz-band Cracker (July 6). And in September, there’s the Third-Annual Crossroads Music Festival, with a slew of Kansas City’s greatest players all on one stage. For ticket and concert information, see www.thecrossroadslive.com.
Big Summer Classic
If the Wakarusa Festival is the big hippie concert to welcome summer, the Big Summer Classic, August 3-5 at Camp Zoe in Salem, Missouri (about 275 miles away from Kansas City), is the one to bid the season adieu. String Cheese Incident shreds and noodles all three nights, with the Roots and Los Lobos also slated to appear. For information and tickets, see www.bigsummerclassic.com.
Missouri State Fair
The Missouri State Fairgrounds (2503 West 16th Street, Sedalia) offer a little something for everyone, and we’re not just saying that. August 9-19, expect standard fair fare such as cotton candy, livestock competitions, carnival rides and rodeos. Also slated: performances by Big and Rich (August 16); American Idols Live (August 18); and “No More Mr. Nice Guy” himself, Alice Cooper (August 11). Call 800-422-3247 or see www.mostatefair .com for admission, scheduling and lodging details.