Take Me to the River
Somehow, Kansas City has for decades managed to straddle a river without putting on a proper river festival. Annual river-related shindigs are a staple in just about every U.S. city with a moving body of water. Without a truly desirable, accommodating bank on which to congregate, though, Kansas Citians have been sorely out of touch with their mighty Missouri. But the relatively new Berkley Riverfront Park, on the south bank between Interstate 35 and Missouri Highway 9, is proving hospitable. After more than 100,000 people showed up there last year for the Lewis and Clark bicentennial, organizers saw the need for an annual river celebration. KC RiverFest now has all of the standards and a couple of unexpected treats. On Saturday, you’ve got your hot-rod and motorcycle show, a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute concert fronted by Ronnie Van Zant’s cousin Jimmie, and lots of zydeco music and Cajun food. Sunday events include a fund-raising walk to benefit area military families, a pancake feed and a fireworks display that, with any luck, will include fireworks. (Anyone remember last year’s fizzle?) Hey, there’s also an audition session for Late Show with David Letterman‘s Stupid Pet Tricks segment. Obviously, there also are amusement rides for the kids and railroad and ag exhibits for Grandpa. For more information, see www.kcriverfest.com. — Sarah Smarsh
Front and Center
Free movies make hot nights bearable.
Last year, Crown Center (2450 Grand, 816-274-8444) debuted Free Friday Night Flicks, projecting family-friendly movies onto a huge screen right in front of the Crown Center Pavilion. How do you top free movies outside on a 39-foot-by-19-foot screen? Add another screen. This year’s second screen, which, at 19 feet by 13 feet is smaller yet still big, is set up on the southeast corner of Crown Center’s fountain level, allowing showings that accommodate plenty more lawn chairs, blankets and film fans. This year’s series, running through July, starts Friday night with a fireworks display followed by Billy Crystal’s midlife-crisis-with-cattle movie City Slickers at 9 p.m. The weeks that follow bring Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Top Gun, The Princess Bride and Grease. — Christopher Sebela