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Arts & Life

6 Things To Celebrate In Kansas City This Weekend


To celebrate or not to celebrate is not the question this weekend. Only how.

Answers include a Memorial Day weekend party hosted by the Kansas City Symphony, a sprawling American roots music jamboree and a sentimental arena rock concert that might have fans “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” anyone who’s handy – which is always one way to make a new friend.

Let the celebrations begin!  

1. Celebration at the Station

The Kansas City Symphony’s 14th annual Memorial Day weekend concert outside Union Station will honor all U.S. military members who died in active service. This year’s patriotic program, highlighted by stirring renditions of “The Stars and Stripes Forever” and “The 1812 Overture,” will include two Kansas City jazz favorites: singer Kevin Mahogany and saxophonist Bobby Watson. Also, park anywhere along the route of the new Kansas City streetcar and ride to this celebration in style. And did I mention salute-inducing fireworks? You might as well start cheering right now.

Sunday, 8 p.m.; Union Station, 30 W. Pershing Road, Kansas City, Mo.; admission: free.

2. Westport Roots Festival

More than 60 bands celebrating a wide variety of American roots music – from bluegrass and honky-tonk to cowpunk and psychobilly – will lay it down at the Westport Saloon and four other Westport music clubs. The “traditional and neo-traditional music stylings” at this third annual shindig offer opportunities to work out aggression with a band like Elvis Hitler or be serenaded by a true country entertainer like Sarah Gayle Meech. 

Main fest: Saturday, noon-2 a.m. (pre-party Friday night, post-party Sunday afternoon); Westport Saloon, 4112 Pennsylvania Ave. (plus Ernie Biggs, Riot Room, Buzzard Beach, Firefly Lounge), Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $25-$50.

​3. WBFF Central U.S. Fitness Show 2016

How are your abs? I’m just glad you’re not asking me. Meanwhile, the contestants at this WBFF (“World Beauty Fitness & Fashion”) show may be “amateurs only,” but they’re not the least bit bashful about celebrating their superior six packs and so on and so forth. The show’s competition categories include “fitness model” and “muscle model” for men and “diva bikini model” and “diva fitness model” for women. Really? As if the guys aren’t “divas,” too!

Saturday, 10:30 a.m. (pre-judging), 6 p.m. (finals); Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland, 1228 Main St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $43-$103.

4. Journey and the Doobie Brothers

Two of the most commercially successful rock acts of the 1970s and ’80s have joined forces to celebrate their musical legacies with the fans who made them stars in the first place. Journey (“Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Wheel in the Sky,” “Any Way You Want It”) and the Doobie Brothers (“Listen to the Music,” “China Grove,” “What a Fool Believes”) will prove that they’re still rockin’ – and cashin’ the tour checks to prove it. Arrive on time to be treated to opening act and fellow ’70s musical traveler Dave Mason (“Only You Know and I Know,” “Feelin’ Alright,” “We Just Disagree”).

Saturday, 7 p.m.; Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $24.95-$127.95.

5. ‘The Graduate’

“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?” That comical question from very nervous college graduate Benjamin Braddock to very naughty family friend Mrs. Robinson is a key moment in the classic 1967 movie, “The Graduate.” You can count on it also carrying an amusing impact in the Barn Players’ stage version, opening this weekend. Yes, there will be nudity. But only briefly. Darn it. Anyway, Benjamin’s graduation celebration gets sidetracked when he becomes involved with an older woman…and her daughter. Oh, those Swinging Sixties.

Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.; Barn Players Community Theatre, 6219 Martway, Mission, Kan.; tickets: $12-$18.

6. Opening Day: Oceans of Fun, Schlitterbahn Kansas City Waterpark

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to summer, but it’s the official kickoff to jumping into the pool everywhere. The area’s two biggest pools (and a whole lot more to keep you wet and wild) will lead the H20 celebration. Never mind that rain showers are predicted this weekend. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. But, hey, no running or you’ll hear that lifeguard whistle!

Thursday, 10 a.m-8 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-midnight; Sunday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Monday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Oceans of Fun, 4545 Worlds of Fun Ave., Kansas City, Mo.; daily admission: $35.99-$45.99. Friday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday, Sunday and Monday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Schlitterbahn Kansas City Waterpark, 9400 State Ave., Kansas City, Kan.; daily admission: $32.99-$49.99.

Brian McTavish is a regular arts and culture contributor for KCUR 89.3. Send him an email at