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6 International Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend

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Want to get far-far away this weekend, but can’t? There might be a way.

Get your international travel ticket punched by taking advantage of local go-and-dos that can transport you – well, at least in spirit – to Ireland, Japan and other distant lands by way of music, dancing and even costumed role-playing.

How far can you go? Don’t look at me, I’m following you!


1. Snake Saturday Parade and Brookside St. Patrick’s Day Warm-Up Parade

These two time-honored street parades are proof that Irish eyes are already smiling a week out from St. Patrick’s Day. And because of non-conflicting start times, people who can’t resist the urge to attend both processions and their attendant festivities in honor of the Emerald Isle’s patron saint may do so with all of the green swagger they can muster. Although it might not be a bad idea to save a little swagger in the tank for next week.

Snake Saturday Parade: Saturday, 11 a.m.; 320 Armour Road, downtown North Kansas City, Mo.; Brookside St. Patrick’s Day Warm-Up Parade: Saturday, 2 p.m.; 63rd Street and Wornall Road, Kansas City, Mo.; admission: free.

2. KC Salsa Festival

Let Latin American rhythms whisk you to that adventurous place where you won’t hesitate to let your body parts (yes, all of them) groove into the wee hours. The dances you’ll do have real names, like Salsa, Merengue and cha cha, but feel free to use an alias when exploring the dance floor. Festival organizers make a point of saying that single, married and engaged folks are welcome. I’d say that about covers it. By the way, if you’re looking for me, ask for “Alessandro.”

Friday and Saturday, 8:30 p.m.; VooDoo Lounge at Harrah’s Casino, 1 Riverboat Drive, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $5-$10 (extra for dance lessons).

​3. Naka-Kon

Founded in 2005, Naka-Kon is a highly participatory celebration of Japanese anime (cartoons), manga (comic books), J-rock (rock music) and other dynamic expressions of pop culture in the Land of the Rising Sun. A major see-and-be-seen attraction at the three-day confab is cosplay (costume play), in which fans of all ages dress up as their favorite fantasy character. Sample chatter: “Look, is that ‘Astro Boy’? No, it actually looks more like ‘Alessandro.’” Yes, I get around.

Friday, 10 a.m.-Sunday, 5 p.m.; Overland Park Convention Center, 6000 College Blvd., Overland Park, Kan.; three-day weekend badges: $55 ($15 ages 6-12).


​4. Grum

Scottish electronic musician and producer Grum (Graeme Shepherd) never leaves his dance-happy audiences glum. Granted, they’re hardly showing up in a bad mood, since they’re assured that the Glasgow-born aural wizard will convey each and every one of them with to a superior sonic heaven. So are there bag pipes in heaven? Just asking.

Saturday, 11 p.m.; Riot Room, 4048 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $10.


5. Kansas City Auto Show

Sure, you live in America, but how well do you know America? That’s not intended as a political question, but as a geographic one. Not surprisingly, the promoters of the Kansas City Auto Show suggest that the best way to get to know this country is by driving around it in a beautiful, brand-new, buy-now-pay-later automobile. Of course, no purchase beyond an admission ticket is required to view 500 new car models that might leave you drooling. Hey, watch the upholstery!

Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Kansas City Convention Center, 301 W. 13th St., Kansas City, Mo; tickets: $11, $6 (ages 8-12).


6. Billy Goats Gruff

The Norwegian fairy tale, Three Billy Goats Gruff, is the inspiration for the Kansas City Zoo’s new Billy Goats Gruff Yard, a combination playground area for children and feeding area for goats that opens this weekend. Thank you, Norway.

Friday-Sunday, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; Kansas City Zoo, 6800 Zoo Drive, Kansas City, Mo.; zoo admission: $11.50-$14-50 (free for ages 2 and younger). 

Brian McTavish is a regular arts and culture contributor for KCUR 89.3. You can reach him at brianmctavish@gmail.com.

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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