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6 Family Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend

The Kansas City Renaissance Festival
Faeries at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.

The family that plays together, stays together — at least while they’re playing.

Why risk any downtime? Keep the clan happy this weekend with family frolicking opportunities that encompass adventuresome superheroes, classic silent screen comedies and annual outdoor festivals where all ages can find a good time.

All together now!

1. ‘Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes’

Marvel Comics superheroes are on tour and saving the world for live audiences in a way that didn’t exist for fans of such fictional do-gooders just a few years ago. But thanks to ongoing superhero movie and TV hits – not to mention the pop-culture-shifting success of TV’s totally nerd-friendly fanboy sitcom, “The Big Bang Theory” – general family audiences for Spider-Man, the Avengers and other colorful long-underwear types only keeps growing. Take the kids (and the kid in you, natch) to this emblematic good vs. evil arena spectacle chock full of stunts, pyro-techniques and the understanding that with great power comes great responsibility. And lots of punching.

Friday, 7 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m.; Sunday, 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $15-$80 (ticket requited for ages 2 and older).

2. Buster Keaton & W.C. Fields Silent Movie Festival

Although completely different in style, the sensationally physical Buster Keaton and subversively appealing W.C. Fields were Hollywood comedians of the highest order. Both became screen stars during the silent era in such 1920s masterpieces as Keaton’s “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” and “The General,” and Fields’ “It’s the Old Army Game” and “Running Wild.” Those timelessly funny flicks and others with live pipe organ accompaniment will be shown and deeply discussed at this daylong fest featuring special onstage appearances by family members of the two comedy giants. Unlike Fields, why did Keaton’s career stall when he started making talkies? You might ask his attending nephew, granddaughter and daughter-in-law – gently.

All-day event starts at 9 a.m. Saturday; Music Hall, 301 W. 13th St., Kansas City, Mo.; admission: free.

3. Jesse James Festival

The area’s annual jubilee in “honor” of infamous Missouri outlaw Jesse James, who robbed and killed his way into American legend after the Civil War, returns to entertain and fascinate family crowds. Indeed, Jesse was a family man, and with his brother Frank pulled off a host of nefarious actions immortalized in story and song and which this weekend will again inspire a parade, a rodeo, disc golf and fishing tournaments, music, dancing, a craft fair, a carnival and mud volleyball. Where’s your festival, John Dillinger?

Thursday, 6 p.m., carnival opens; Friday, 9 a.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.- Sunday, 12:30 a.m.; Jesse James Park, 16925 State Route 33, Kearney, Mo.

4. American Royal World Series of Barbecue

Even if don’t know anything about barbecue, all you need is a sense of smell at this year’s American Royal World Series of Barbecue. Trust those twitching nostrils to guide you to the spots were world-class Que is being offered for sale to the public or competitively prepared by savvy teams from the across the country utilizing high-tech grilling and smoking equipment. Cute alert: The Kids Que Contest will have ages 6 to 10 tackling hamburgers and ages 11 to 15 working with steaks. Tomorrow’s pit masters today!

Friday, 3-10 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; Sunday, 5 p.m.; Kansas Speedway, Kan.; tickets: $9-$25.

5. Fiesta Hispana

Taco or burrito? Yeah, that’s a false dilemma, especially at Fiesta Hispana, the annual celebration of familial food, music, dance and other authentic expressions of Hispanic culture and history. A more valid question might be: Which one of your hands gets to hold the taco and which one the burrito at the same time? No fair juggling. Not that scavenging birds will mind.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday; Barney Allis Plaza, 299 W. 12th St., Kansas City, Mo.; admission: free.

6. Kansas City Renaissance Festival

Family dogs will have their days at this weekend’s “Ales & Tails” themed events at the Kansas City Ren Fest, including a parading pet costume contest. Simply register your canine upon arrival at the pet gate and good luck to all. Allow me to declare any dachshund dressed as William Shakespeare a preemptive winner. Way to rock 16th century, wiener dog!

Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; 633 N. 130th St., Bonner Springs, Kan.; tickets: $13.95-$22.95 (ages 4 and younger 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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