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6 Diverse Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend

Set your mouth on fire this weekend at the Lenexa Chili Challenge.

As we have come to learn in our society, diversity is vital to achieving optimum success in the workplace. But did you know that it can also work wonders for your weekend?

Well, let me tell you. I mean, literally, right now. Yep, that’s what I’m here for.

Prepare to diversify!

1. Lenexa Chili Challenge

No matter what your high-school lunchroom memories might be, there’s more than one kind of chili. The Lenexa Chili Challenge is a great way to expose your mouth to the abundance of possible flavors, textures and temperatures, with free samples available (while they last) from the event’s 200 competing teams. If you’re into food-generated pain – or at least watching others subject themselves to it – don’t miss the hot pepper eating contest at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Contest rules warn that each participant “recognizes that excess consumption of peppers can lead to and/or contribute to health issues.” You think?

Friday, 6-10 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Old Town Lenexa, Santa Fe Trail Drive & Pflumm Road, Lenexa, Kan.; admission: free.

2. Dogtober Fest

Whatever Fido wants, Fido gets at this annual jubilee of canine cavorting, from bobbing for biscuits to dock diving and Frisbee catching. True, the doggie costume contest is more about what the owners want. C’mon, when was the last time your pooch wanted to dress up? Really? Oh, sorry. No dog? No problem. The fest includes an Adopt-a-Pet booth, which will give you and your new furry friend plenty of time to get ready for next year’s bark-happy bash.

Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Kemper Outdoor Education Center in Fleming Park, 8201 S. Jasper Bell Road, Blue Springs, Mo.; admission: free (donations of dog food accepted for local animal shelters).

3. Arlo Guthrie: ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ 50th Anniversary Tour

The son of iconic folk singer Woody Guthrie found his own audience in the 1960s with such idiosyncratic ditties as “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” a humorous musical tale that both reflected and contributed to the burgeoning counterculture of its time. Guthrie is performing his 18-minute opus with a band on the road to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the origin of the song – an inflated account of his Thanksgiving Day exploits in 1965 – along with a cache of other favorite numbers, including classics by his father. I’d go for a little “This Land Is Your Land.”

Sunday, 7 p.m.; Yardley Hall at the Carlsen Center, Johnson County Community College, 12345 College Blvd., Overland Park, Kan.; tickets: $21-$52.

4. The Big Draw

You don’t have to be an artist to be an artist, which means you’re already an artist. Stretch your self-image (and maybe draw a self-portrait) at this international drawing festival locally hosted by the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library. Anyone with an imagination – that would be you – is invited to take part in a group mural project and sidewalk chalk drawing. Don’t hold back! 

Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library – South Branch, 3104 Strong Ave., Kansas City, Kan.; admission: free.

5. Kathleen Madigan

A total pro at getting laughs in her own fashion, stand-up comedian Kathleen Madigan never hurries her material. In fact, Madigan generates so many guffaws, she has to wait for fans to settle down before going to her next story-centric joke in her own sweet time. A savvy veteran of TV’s “Last Comic Standing,” the St. Louis native has successfully plied her craft for more than 25 years on just about every talk show you can think of. And she’s a winner of both the American Comedy Award for "Best Female Comedian" and the Phyllis Diller award for "Best Female Comedian." Funny, funny gal.

Friday, 8 p.m.; Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland, 1228 Main St.; Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $29.50-$36.50.

6. Racing at Kansas Speedway

Been meaning to release your inner-vroom at the Kansas Speedway, but just never gotten around to it? This weekend is your chance, with three different racing events to choose from: The ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America) Racing Series Full Throttle S'loonshine 98.9 on Thursday, the Kansas Lottery 300 on Friday and the Hollywood Casino 400 on Saturday. Get it in gear!

Thursday, Friday and Saturday, gates open 8 a.m.; Kansas Speedway, 400 Speedway Blvd., Kansas City, Kan.; tickets: $9.89 (Friday), $15-$80 (Saturday); $29-$139 (Sunday).

Brian McTavish follows popular culture in the belief that the search for significance can lead anywhere. Brian explains, "I've written articles and reviews ... reviewed hundreds of concerts, films and plays. And the thing is, these high arts all sprang from the pop culture of their day. Don't forget: Shakespeare was once Spielberg."
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