Wayne City Landing Days
The new Wayne City Landing Days festival is designed to draw attention to the spot that’s “the only location in the United States where the … Lewis and Clark, Santa Fe, Oregon and California trails” converge. In addition to performances by country ensembles Outlaw Jim & the Whiskey Benders and the Phil Vandel Band, the four-day event in Sugar Creek features a carnival and a beer garden. The William Chrisman Thespians will give two guided “twilight tours” that recount the historical significance of the Wayne City Landing Bluff.
Wednesday-Saturday. Sugar Creek. 816-252-4400. sugar-creek.mo.us. Free.
Missouri State Fair
The Missouri State Fair’s theme of “Harvest of Fun” encapsulates the annual event’s dominant themes of agriculture and entertainment. In addition to displays of the Show-Me State’s prime livestock and produce, the fair includes a farmers market and a host of events ranging from a forum on cooking with Missouri wine to a rooster-crowing contest. A demolition derby, motocross racing, comedy shows and a slate of national entertainers, including classic rockers Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Christian rock band Mercy Me and country star Jake Owen, are among the attractions.
Thursday through Aug. 17. Sedalia. 800-422-FAIR. mostatefair.com. Single-day admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors age 60 and older, and $2 for children ages 6-12. Additional fees for some events and concerts.
Chiefs vs. Cincinnati
The Royals, Sporting KC and collegiate basketball teams have provided nice off-season distractions, but for an outsized proportion of sports fans in the Kansas City area, the Chiefs are the only team that really matters. Supporters of the Chiefs have had a bad taste in their mouths since the team lost a playoff game to the Indianapolis Colts in heartbreaking fashion on Jan. 4. Thursday’s preseason contest isn’t merely a chance to assess a fresh crop of prospects; it’s a highly anticipated new beginning for the members of Chiefs Nation.
7 p.m. Thursday. Arrowhead Stadium. 888-99-CHIEFS kcchiefs.com. $25-$270.
Great Midwest Balloon Festival
Even if the event’s signature airborne orbs somehow failed to decorate the sky, the Great Midwest Balloon Festival would still offer a remarkable array of entertainment. In addition to the opportunity to view and ride a variety of balloons, the festival includes doughnut- and pie-eating contests, a children’s area with bounce houses, a display of giant kites and a sanctioned barbecue competition. Three acts compete in a battle of the bands on Friday. Saturday’s entertainers include locally based country band 6 Degrees West. The Afters, a Christian rock band from Dallas, perform on Sunday.
Friday-Sunday. Kansas Speedway. midwestballoonfest.org. Advance single-day tickets are $16.50 for adults (15 and older) and $8.50 for ages 4-14.
The Bon Ton Soul Accordion Band was once one of the region’s most popular ensembles. The zydeco band regularly filled venues like the Hurricane in Westport in the ’80s and ’90s with songs that were notable for explicit lyrics and tremendously funky grooves. The band recently reunited after a 13-year hiatus. The reconciliation allows for the return of the Crawfish Festival, an event that was discontinued when the band broke up. City Market restaurant Beignet will provide traditional Cajun food. Blue Orleans, a locally based roots-oriented band, kicks off the festivities.
6 p.m. Friday. City Market. 816-842-1271. thecitymarket.org. $15.
Beard & Moustache Competition
Beardos unite! The Kansas City Beard & Moustache Club’s Beard & Moustache Competition will serve as a welcome refuge for the daring people who sport extreme facial hair. A wide variety of styles will be on display. The “full beard freestyle” category, for instance, “will be judged on originality, style, symmetry, groom, size, density and color.” Competitions including “fake beard” and “fake junior mustache (17 and under)” allow follicle-challenged people to participate. Proceeds benefit the nonprofit animal shelter Unleashed and the early education child care and social services organization Operation Breakthrough.
7 p.m. Saturday. The Valentine Room at the Uptown Theater. uptowntheater.com. $10 or $15 for competitors.
TEDxKC: Changing the Narrative
Anyone looking for an indication that the TED conference craze has reached absurd proportions need look no further than Saturday’s sold-out event at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. As 1,400 people take in a series of presentations at Helzberg Hall, an audience of 1,800 will watch a video simulcast next door at Muriel Kauffman Theatre. Among the speakers at Saturday’s “Changing the Narrative” event are Don Bacigalupi, the executive director of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; writer, filmmaker and producer Alix Lambert; and comedic writer Baratunde Thurston.
5:30 p.m. Saturday. Kauffman Center. 816-994-7222. kauffmancenter.org. $35 for the live event in Helzberg Hall. $20 for the simulcast in Muriel Kauffman Theatre.
U.S. Air Guitar National Finals
A silly endeavor will be taken very seriously at the Midland theater on Saturday. Airistotle and Ricky Stinkfingers will be among the performers competing in the U.S. Air Guitar National Finals. Kansas City is hosting the 2014 championship partly because area resident Eric “Mean” Melin won the 18th Annual Air Guitar World Championships last year. Melin will perform but not compete on Saturday. Melin and the winner of Saturday’s contest will be the prohibitive favorites at the international competition in Finland later this month. Members of the audience can visit an air guitar museum while they’re not watching the amusing histrionics on stage.
9 p.m. Saturday. Midland theater. 816-283-9921. midlandkc.com. $15 in advance, $20 at the door.
Susan G. Komen Kansas City Race for the Cure
Although trendy novelties like colored dye aren’t a part of the Susan G. Komen Kansas City Race for the Cure, the primary function of the annual charitable fundraiser is no less striking. The event could raise more than a million dollars. Organizers estimate that about 20,000 people from 35 states will either participate in the run or volunteer for Sunday’s festivities. Seven planes in a KC Flight flyover will stream white smoke. An eighth plane will emit pink smoke, a reminder that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes. The post-race festivities include a breast cancer survivor parade.
7:30 a.m. Sunday. Union Station. 816-842-0410. komenkansascity.org. $35 for untimed and $40 timed. Ages 12 and under $15
Benoit Denizet-Lewis for “Travels With Casey: My Journey Through Our Dog-Crazy Country”
“Travels with Charley,” John Steinbeck’s meditation on crossing the United States with his dog, documents one of the great road trips of American literature. Benoit Denizet-Lewis updates Steinbeck’s work in “Travels With Casey: My Journey Through Our Dog-Crazy Country.” “Steinbeck was trying to tell the story of America’s soul,” Denizet-Lewis explains in a trailer for his new book. “I hope to tell the story of America’s dogs and their dog-crazy humans.” “Travels With Casey” is the most recent work by the writer for The New York Times Magazine.
7 p.m. Wednesday. Rainy Day Books. 913-384-3126. rainydaybooks.com. $26 plus Kansas sales tax, includes one hardcover book and one autographing admission reservation and one guest reservation.