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6 Festive Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend

Pat Loika
Wikimedia Commons

Summer is by nature a festive time. School is out for the kids and adults are never too far away from at least the thought of relaxing their grip on responsibility.

The season’s happy lure is strong this weekend, with such attractions as a two-day country music and camping festival, a pair of county fairs, a glow-in-the-dark waterslide experience for the ages and a Harry Potter-inspired wizard contest.

If I had a magic wand? Poof! Endless summer festivities. So much for my grip on responsibility.

1. Tumbleweed Country Music & Camping Festival

There shouldn’t be a rhinestone cowboy in sight at the Tumbleweed Country Music & Camping Festival, where the sincere strains of American outlaw country will come from such glitz-free headliners as Jamey Johnson (“Redneck Side of Me”), Cody Jinks (“Hippies and Cowboys”) and Whitey Morgan (“Still Drunk, Still Crazy, Still Blue”). Festivalgoers can camp, hike, take a canoe ride or kick back and fish on the banks of the Missouri River. And, if you’ve got thirty bucks burning a hole in your pocket, there’ll be a helicopter waiting to take you on a tour of the KC skyline that might be a party in itself.

Friday, 3 p.m.; Saturday, noon; LaBenite Park, On the South Side of the Missouri River, Sugar Creek, Mo.; tickets: $69-$199.

2. Leavenworth County Fair

From turtle races to a monster truck show, organizers of this year’s Leavenworth County Fair want to cover all of the down-home festivities. That includes rides and games along the carnival midway, both youth and adult rodeo events, a 4-H open horse show, a kids pedal tractor pull, pie-eating contests and whatever happens at duct tape contests – your guess is as good as mine!

Thursday-Saturday; Leavenworth County Fairgrounds, 405 W. Fourth St., Tonganoxie, Kan.; admission: free (some attractions cost).

3. Miami County Fair

Rodeos and royalty dominate the festive atmosphere at this year’s Miami County Fair, where Thursday night’s Sweetheart Crowning and Mutton Bustin’ (ride ’em, kiddo!) events will share the evening spotlight. The Queen and Princess of the fair will be crowned preceding Friday night’s rodeo action, which also returns Saturday with more bull riding, saddle bronc and bareback riding, team roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling and a special calf-roping showcase for participants 40 and older – what, no crown for them?

Thursday-Saturday; Wallace Park, Osage Street and Wallace Park Dr., Paola, Kan.; admission: free (some attractions cost).

​4. Blacklight Slide

What’s a blacklight slide? I submit it’s a thinly disguised form of 1960s and ’70s nostalgia – the wonder of blacklight posters meets the watery Slip ’N Slide by Wham-O on a giant scale. Granted, the vast majority of riders on the Blacklight Slide this Saturday night at Arrowhead Stadium will be far too young to think of the fun they’re having that way. In fact, thinking should have little do with it. Rather, it’ll be about wild careening and gleeful squealing while getting doused in neon-glowing water colors. I’d call that festive. And messy.

Saturday, 7-11 p.m. (5 p.m. check-in); Arrowhead Stadium, 1 Arrowhead Drive, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $50.

5. Phoenix Fest

The Phoenix club opened in 1990, when there wasn’t nearly as much festive stuff happening downtown as there is today. More than a quarter century later, the Phoenix is still offering quality Kansas City jazz and blues. Come celebrate the club’s past, present and future at this eighth annual fest featuring top local musicians on outdoor and indoor stages, including Brody Buster and Tim Whitmer & KC Express.

Saturday, noon; the Phoenix, 302 W. Eighth St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $10.

6. Tri-Wizard Tournament

It’s been 20 years since the first Harry Potter novel set the precocious boy wizard’s worldwide brand in motion. Many more books (and movies) later, the Johnson County Library is giving Potter-loving kids a chance to roll up their own sorcerers’ sleeves at the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Youngsters can register their own team to compete in a mock Quidditch match or just dance to the wizardly rock band called the 8th Horcrux. I don’t even know what a Horcrux is and I’m already feeling festive!

Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; Johnson County Central Resource Library, 9875 W. 87th St., Overland Park, Kan.; admission: free.

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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