Johnson County Old Settlers
The Johnson County Old Settlers organization defines the “old settler” designation as someone who has “lived in Johnson County for 45 years.” Both longtime residents and people new to the area should find plenty to appreciate at the volunteer group’s three-day festival. Stories about life in the county will be shared at Saturday’s “gab fest.” Ice cream socials, a flower show and a carnival are among the other activities. Bands representing the Olathe East and Olathe Northwest high schools will perform on Thursday. Shooting Star, one of the most successful rock bands from the Kansas City area, is Friday’s headliner. The Nashville-based Americana artist Will Hoge tops Saturday’s bill.
Thursday, Sept. 4; Friday, Sept. 5; Saturday, Sept. 6. Downtown Olathe. johnsoncountyoldsettlers.com. Free.
Kansas State Fair
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Residents of Kansas’ 105 counties converge on Hutchinson every year to revel in an enormous array of entertainment options at the Kansas State Fair. The opening weekend kicks off with a bang. Three impressive headliners — Cheap Trick on Friday, Hunter Hayes on Saturday and Sawyer Brown on Sunday — will perform at the grandstand stage. Friday’s events range from a carrot cake contest to pig races. Gubernatorial and senatorial debates are among Saturday’s highlights. Sunday’s activities include an arm-wrestling competition and a miniature horse show.
Friday, Sept. 5, through Sunday, Sept. 14. Hutchinson. 620-669-3600. kansasstatefair.com. Daily tickets are $6 in advance for adults and $4 in advance for seniors 60 and older. Additional ticket charges and fees apply to concerts and other activities.
Union Station, one of Kansas City’s most prominent landmarks, opened in 1914. Friday’s celebration is the first in a series of events that will commemorate the building’s 100th anniversary. Thousands of people will attend Friday’s free event solely to hail an appearance by Kansas City Chiefs’ players, coaches and cheerleaders in advance of the team’s home opener on Sunday. The sports enthusiasts are likely to be amazed by the subsequent performance by Quixotic. The troupe’s multimedia presentation at the historic site promises to be spectacular. The festivities will conclude with a fireworks display.
5-9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5. Union Station. 816-460-2020. unionstation.org/100years. Free.
KC Improv Festival
The recent death of Robin Williams served as a sad reminder of the value of improvisational comedy. Comics who aspire to the brilliance of Williams will be trained at workshops by the KC Improv Festival, an event billed as “Kansas City’s biggest and best comedy festival.” The spontaneous form of comedy will also be featured in a series of shows. Locally based performers include the comedy duo Dog and Friend Dog, Keith Curtis, the KC Improv Company and Babel Fish. D’Hotel Winnetka, a troupe based in Chicago, is among the additional participants.
7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4, through Saturday, Sept. 13. Off Center Theater in Crown Center and Kick Comedy Theater in Westport. 913-871-6242. kcimprovfestival.com. $13-$35.
Dance in the Park
Like an artistic version of a potluck dinner, Saturday’s Dance in the Park presentation is a dynamic mix-and-match collaboration between several regional dance companies. A striking variety of styles will be demonstrated by organizations including the City in Motion Dance Theater, the Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company, Störling Dance Theater, Bobby Ray Entertainment and Haskell Indian Nations University. The free event serves as a risk-free opportunity to survey the offerings of various companies. A free dance class at 6:30 p.m. precedes the performances.
6:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6. Roanoke Park. 816-908-7354. facebook.com/danceinthepark. Free.
Kansas City Cigar Festival
The delectable aromas of restaurants including Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue on the Country Club Plaza will be complemented by an unusually powerful infusion of a different type of smoke on Saturday. Attendees of the Kansas City Cigar Festival, an annual event presented by Plaza retailer Diebel’s, will receive a “swag bag” with a cigar from each of the 16 cigar manufacturers represented at the four-hour event. The festival’s food and drink vendors include the Peanut, O’Dowd’s Little Dublin and Dark Horse Distillery. Proceeds from a raffle will benefit Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City.
11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6. Country Club Plaza. 816-216-1957. kccigarfestival.com. $125, VIP and non-cigar tickets are also available.
Chiefs vs. Tennessee Titans
Even though the disappointing preseason performance of the Kansas City Chiefs alarmed even the most devoted fans, many doubts would be erased with a decisive victory on Sunday. Last season’s remarkable success — the franchise won 11 games after losing all but two contests the previous season — has heightened expectations. The contest against the Tennessee Titans could be determined by the contributions of two of the smallest men on the field. The dynamic Dexter McCluster, a former member of the Chiefs, now contributes his game-changing talent to the Titans. The diminutive rookie De’Anthony Thomas, already a fan favorite, will attempt to make Chiefs fans forget about the loss of McCluster.
Noon, Sunday, Sept. 7. Arrowhead Stadium. 816-920-9400. kcchiefs.com. $55-$290.
College football: Lincoln University vs. Langston
Let college football fans around the nation obsess about star players like Jameis Winston of the Florida State Seminoles and Marcus Mariota of the Oregon Ducks. The NFL-bound power conference quarterbacks may be future millionaires, but the celebrity athletes and many of their admirers are missing out on the unique atmosphere of game days at traditionally black institutions like Lincoln University and Langston University. When the teams from Jefferson City, Mo., and Langston, Okla., square off at the Missouri Classic on Saturday, the game will be just part of the attraction. The halftime marching band show and a Nae Nae dance contest will also be integral aspects of the fun.
3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6. Arrowhead Stadium. 816-920-9400. themissouriclassic.com. $28-$45.
Kansas City Chalk & Walk Festival
Even people who took pride in sketching perfectly rendered hopscotch grids onto pavement as children probably never explored the artistic possibilities of the form. Italian street painters known as madonnari have long created stunning works of impermanent art. Several of the United States’ elite street painters will demonstrate their talents at Crown Center Square this weekend during the Kansas City Chalk & Walk Festival. Hundreds of professional and amateur artists will attempt to equal the museum-quality work of these specialists. A “children’s creative corridor” will provide a forum for young artists.
11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday Sept. 6, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 7. Crown Center Square. kcchalkandwalk.org. Free.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus: Built to Amaze
The greatest show on earth is changing with the times. Elephants, tigers, clowns and tightrope walkers remain an integral part of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, but the tone of the show bears little resemblance to past presentations. The Built to Amaze motif of the current production occasionally resembles an animated children’s cartoon. The theme song tells attendees that “we’ll make a circus today that you’ll remember forever.” Traditionalists may balk at the modern twists, but the flashy spectacle continues to offer plenty of old-fashioned thrills.
7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10-Friday, Sept. 12; 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13; 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14. Sprint Center. 816-949-7000. sprintcenter.com. $10-$89.
Bill Brownlee, Special to The Star