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Arts & Life

7 Feel-Good Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend

Lance Rothstein
If dragon boat races don't do it for you, then perhaps the rest of these feel good activities for the weekend will.

Feel good?

You can this weekend with spirit-lifting options that include front-porch music for the masses, the mythological power of a Broadway classic and an evening with one the most playful and insightful comic talents of the last 50 years.

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to feel good already.

​1. PorchFestKC

More than 100 bands intimately performing on more than 30 front porches in Kansas City’s West Plaza neighborhood. That’s the simple yet splendid promise of PorchFestKC, the area’s second annual excuse to mingle to melodies while spreading good vibes all around on a Saturday afternoon. The up-close and personal experience for passersby will take place from Westport Road south to 47th Street and from Terrace Street west to Genessee Street. Musical modes will include Americana, folk, alternative, bluegrass, country, pop, tango, jazz, blues, r&b, reggae and acoustic rock. The thematic through-line: Nothing too loud, just lasting in the mind. Saturday, noon-5 p.m.; front porches of homes in West Plaza neighborhood, Kansas City, Mo.; admission: free (musicians play for tips).

2. “Camelot”

There’s lots to feel good about in the fabled musical, “Camelot,” which not only charmed Broadway audiences in the early 1960s with its dreamlike tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. The Tony Award-winning show also served as a popular metaphor for the sense of promise and possibility associated with the U.S. presidency of John F. Kennedy. After Kennedy’s shocking assassination in 1963, the comparison only became stronger as the fallen chief’s brief time in office was forever etched in the public mind as noble and legendary. Today, the bittersweet pleasures of “Camelot” allow audiences to penetrate the mists of time and memory in more ways than one. Thursday through Sunday, 8 p.m.; Starlight Theatre, 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $14-$141.

3. Scottish Highland Games

Muscles will flex and brows will sweat, but you can rest easy and enjoy the sporty spectacle as kilt-wearing athletes do all the heavy lifting at the Scottish Highland Games. Crowd-pleasing feats of strength and skill with ancient origins include the caber toss (think flinging a telephone pole) and the stone toss (think shot-putting). Kids can participate in selected events, but not in the whiskey tasting (don’t think, just taste). Also on tap: Traditional highland dancing and music that should put all lads and lassies in a good mood. Saturday, 9 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; E.H. Young Riverfront Park, 1001 Argosy Pkwy., Riverside, Mo.; tickets: $10 (ages 12 and younger free).

4. Lily Tomlin

Emerging in the late 1960s on TV’s “Laugh-In,” Lily Tomlin made instant fans with such funny characters as feisty telephone operator Ernestine (“One ringy-dingy…”) and precocious child Edith Ann (“And that’s the truth!”). Her successful show-business career went on to encompass hit movies (“9 to 5”) and the Broadway stage (“The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe”). Tomlin will share her accumulated wit and wisdom as only she and her ever-expanding cadre of characters can in a one-woman show that’s sure to delight even as it ingeniously pushes boundaries. Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $49-$69.

5. American Jazz Walk of Fame Induction & Concert

They’re contributions to jazz have been masterful: Hammond B-3 organ man Everett DeVan; Claude “Fiddler” Williams, tenor saxophonists Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young; songstress Myra Taylor; and bandleader Benny Moten. The accomplishments of all will be publicly commemorated – and we can all feel good about that – during Saturday’s American Jazz Walk of Fame Induction at 18th and Vine. Following the ceremony, get hip to the swinging sounds of vocalist Kevin Mahogany and guitarist Norman Brown in a concert at the Gem Theater. Saturday, 6:30 p.m. induction; American Jazz Museum, 1616 E. 18th St., Kansas City, Mo.; admission: free. 7 p.m. concert; Gem Theater, 1615 E. 18th St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $30.

6. Kansas City International Dragon Boat Festival

This 11th annual confluence of competition and camaraderie offers traditional Chinese dragon boat racing, music, dancing and food, sponsored by the Society for Friendship with China. And who doesn’t want to make another friend? Diverse family fun! Saturday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Brush Creek on the Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, Mo.; admission: free.

7. Dog-n-Jog

Speaking of friends, what feels better than getting out for a little exercise with man and woman’s best friend? How about raising money for the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City? The 28th annual Dog-n-Jog seeks to accomplish both goals with the help of pledge-seeking dog owners, who will run, jog or walk with their pooches for up to 2 miles. There will also be dog agility performances, pet vendors, contests and prize drawings. The event’s co-emcee is KSHB-TV Chief Meteorologist and well-known canine fan Gary Lezak, who will bring along his beloved “weather dog” Stormy. Aww. Sunday, 7-10:30 a.m.; Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, Mo.; registration: $40 ($30 in advance).

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