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6 Historic Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend

Juuso Haarala
The Air Guitar World Championships
Kereel "Your Daddy" Blumenkrants competing in the Air Guitar World Championships.

History is important. Just ask – it’ll tell you.

This weekend’s lesson is chatty indeed with historic entertainments recounting a remarkable range of art and culture – from ethnic festivities steeped in ancient ways to an iconic progressive rock band celebrating its half-century mark to totally pretend guitarists vying to become a part of real history.

Got that? Remember, history is watching – and ready to dish!

1. Cinema KC Legacy Series: ‘Kansas City’

Famed film director and Kansas City native son Robert Altman returned home to shoot the 1996 movie, “Kansas City,” a slice-of-life look at our formerly “wide open town” during Altman’s formative years in the 1930s. Lovers, gangsters and lots of talented jazz musicians populate the dicey scenery, and Cinema KC invites you to experience the film in a new way at its Legacy Series screening event. Special Q&A guests include Altman’s son Robert Reed Altman, a veteran camera operator and director of photography who worked on “Kansas City” and many other of his father’s films, and grandson Dana Altman, a film producer and director.  

Sunday, 3:30 p.m. (2 p.m. jazz reception); Screenland Medallion Theatre at Plexpod Westport Commons, 300 E. 39th St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $10 (screening), $15 (reception).

2. Sugar Creek Slavic Festival

The theme is family and for historically good reason at the 2018 Sugar Creek Slavic Festival. The annual fest showcases food, music, dance and art that’s been appreciated for centuries by descendants of multiple countries who share related Indo-European languages. Enjoy the lively entertainment and join hands with the nearest reveler to become part of the polka-fueled fun. Will there be a sausage eating contest? As if you had to ask!

Friday, 5-11 p.m.; Saturday, 3-11 p.m.; Mike Onka Memorial Building Grounds, 11520 E Putnam, Sugar Creek, Mo.; admission: $4, free for ages 12 and younger.

3. St. Dionysios Greek Festival

Authentic Greek eats and other delights will dominate at Kansas City’s longest running Greek festival. A toga isn’t required, but there’s no rule against going all out at this 57th annual party inspired by the co-cradle of western civilization and democracy. A head wreath, too? Hey, if it was good enough for the Greek god Apollo in his prime, it’s good enough for you a few thousand years later. One more thing: Baklava. Oh, my, that’s good.

Friday, 5-10 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., St. Dionysios Greek Orthodox Christian Church, 8100 W. 95th St., Overland Park, Kan.; admission: free.

4. Kansas City International Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon boat racing began more than 2,000 years ago in China. The transplanted tradition continues at the 14th annual Kansas City International Dragon Boat Festival, featuring 12 competing teams, including a guest team from Beijing. Besides rooting for favorites rowing on the water, terrestrial pleasures will include martial arts stage performances, rolling drummers and children’s crafts.

Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Brush Creek on the Country Club Plaza, Ward Parkway and J.C. Nichols Parkway, Kansas City, Mo.; admission: free.

5. Yes

Iconic English progressive rock band Yes is calling attention to its half-century mark with a concert tour dubbed #YES50. Beyond the modern hashtag, it will be oldies city when the band shares its most historically significant songs with the faithful for whom rock music infused with instrumental intricacy never gets old. Guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Alan White, both of whom joined Yes in the early 1970s, lead the onstage nostalgia. Vocals will be supplied by Jon Davison, who’s been onboard since 2011 and sounds eerily like original Yes vocalist Jon Anderson. Likely classics to be included: “Roundabout,” “Starship Trooper” and “Close to the Edge.” After all these years, might Yes be getting too close? No!

Sunday, 7:30 p.m.; Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland, 1228 Main St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $39.50-$99.50.

6. U.S. Air Guitar Championships — Kansas City, Missouri

Get your kicks from pretend hot licks at this contest where history will be made – especially if the winner goes on to take the U.S. Air Guitar Championship in New York and World Air Guitar Championship overseas. It could happen. Just ask 2013 air guitar world champ Eric “Mean” Melin, who returns to host this year’s local faux fret frivolity. The key to air guitar success isn’t to merely go over the top – but over that. And maybe over that, too. And to think it all started in front of the bedroom mirror.

Friday, 9 p.m.; recordBar, 1520 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $10.

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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