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Arts & Life

7 Things To Do In Johnson County This Weekend


Think of Johnson County as a flower – which, of course, many folks already do.

Better yet, make it a field of flowers, whose nectar is available to all – which it is, of course, no matter where you may live in the Kansas City area.

Wherever your head hits the pillow at the end of the day, get out this weekend and make your own Johnson County bouquet of fun. Which go-and-do activities to pick? Glad you asked.

1. Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art

Take a guided tour or wander among the world-class paintings, sculptures, ceramics, photography and more that grace this jewel of an art museum at Johnson County Community College. For an eye-opening overview, check out the Nerman’s current exhibition, Reveal: Works from the Collection. No wonder Public Art Review magazine cited JCCC among the top 10 college campuses for public art in America. Thursday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.; Johnson County Community College, 12345 College Blvd., Overland Park, Kan.; admission: free.

2. 1950s All Electric House

We’re still waiting for flying cars. But the so-called “all-electric house” was achieved way back in 1954, when Kansas City Power & Light offered up its modern marvel of a family home replete with electric curtains, an electric garage door and – gasp – electric air conditioning. Today, the five-room suburban ranch seems quaint as a satellite attraction of the Johnson County Museum. But just imagine being among the thousands who toured the ultramodern abode in its first months as a model home during the Eisenhower Era.

Innovative devices included a cleverly concealed television set, as if that were something to hide. Big-screen TV fans – aren’t we all? – will have a hoot. Thursday through Saturday, 1-4 p.m.; 6305 Lackman Road, Shawnee, Kan.; admission: $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 ages 5-12 (guided tours every half hour).

3. Downtown Overland Park

Founded in 1905 by William B. Strang Jr. as a pastoral subdivision, Overland Park grew to be a major hub of the KC metro. Yet it all started at a spot on the historic Santa Fe Trail in what became known as Downtown Overland Park. Today, charming shops, restaurants and art galleries thrive in the area, as well as a Saturday farmer’s market. And a monthly Local Life Third Fridays event features live entertainment from 5-9 p.m., along with the kind of neighborly feeling that comes with time and people who care. Open daily; located on both sides of Metcalf Avenue between 78th and 83rd streets.

4. Stanford & Sons Comedy Club

If you had to count the laughs generated by stand-up comics through the years at Stanford & Sons, well, you couldn’t. Call it a jillion and be done with it. The comics who’ve shared the stage at the club’s various locations since 1979 also amount to a slew of well-known names, including Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams, Rosanne Barr, Sam Kinison, Ellen DeGeneres, Richard Lewis, Damon Wayons, Lisa Lampanelli and Lewis Black.

After recently relocating from the Legends in Kansas City, Kan., to Rosanna Square in Overland Park, Stanford & Sons is keeping the funny people coming and serving dinner, too. This weekend’s attraction: Josh Wolf, an L.A. jokester who’s written for sitcoms and had a recurring role on “My Name is Earl.” Looking ahead: Comic and impressionist Dave Coulier of “Full House” fame – would you believe 192 episodes? – should be extremely silly when he entertains Feb. 19-21. Thursday, 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 7:45 and 9:45 p.m.; 7328 W. 119th St., Overland Park, Kan.; tickets: $15 to $30 ($55 per couple for dinner and show).

5. Bicycle Trails

Popular trails abound for bicyclists in Johnson County. Even if it’s chilly this time of year, cyclists always seem to find a way to push those pedals. You can check out bike trail guides for northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest Johnson County online. Although I’m not much of a bike rider anymore, it’s tempting – but only if I can find a fully restored 1966 orange five-speed Schwinn Sting-Ray with fastback handlebars and a banana seat. Because that’s how I ride – in the past!

6. Museum at Prairiefire

Opened last summer, the Museum at Prairiefire is a partnership with the American Museum of Natural History in the burgeoning Prairiefire mixed-use development project. Visitors to the museum’s Great Hall are treated to a life-size cast of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Meanwhile, in the Discovery Room, ages 3 and older can have hands-on fun with science and natural history. The museum’s exterior is an attraction in itself as the only building in the nation to feature Dichroic Glass created by NASA. Are you ready for a learning lift-off? Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.; 5801 W. 135th St., Overland Park, Kan.; admission: free to the Great Hall; $8 adults, $7 ages 3-12 to the Discovery Room.

7. Werner’s Fine Sausages

What beats a perfectly grilled German sausage? Maybe a less than perfectly grilled one, because those are pretty darn good, too. But if you want to shoot for the former – aim high, I always say – try checking out this authentic German market chock full of delicious meats and other treats. You can even do it on the fly: Every Saturday the proprietors hang outside the shop to sell mouthwatering sausages hot off the grill. Totally napkin worthy. Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; 5736 Johnson Drive, Mission, Kan.

This look at the two sides of the Wyandotte County/Johnson County line is part of KCUR's months-long examination of how geographic borders affect our daily lives in Kansas City. KCUR will go Beyond Our Borders and spark a community conversation through social outreach and innovative journalism.

We will share the history of these lines, how the borders affect the current Kansas City experience and what’s being done to bridge or dissolve them. Become a source for KCUR as we investigate Johnson and Wyandotte Counties.

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