This week in Kansas City: Juneteenth, Dragon Boats, Scottish Highland Games and ‘American Pie’

The Kansas City Scottish Highland Games & Celtic Festival includes fighting demonstrations and music.
The Kansas City Scottish Highland Games & Celtic Festival includes fighting demonstrations and music. The Kansas City Star

“Juneteenth” is the commemoration of the end of slavery in the U.S. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved were now free. This was 21/2 years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which became official Jan. 1, 1863. Among the Juneteenth celebrations in the Kansas City area:

This weekend’s Juneteenth Parade and Celebration is an appealingly modest, admirably sincere community gathering. Following a 6 p.m. prayer vigil, three sets of locally based musicians will play R&B, jazz and blues at Big Eleven Lake in Kansas City, Kan., on Friday. A cancer walk, run and parade will open Saturday’s festivities. An explanation of the historic origins of the Juneteenth holiday will precede the afternoon’s car show, barbecue and greens-cooking competitions. Gospel ensembles will perform throughout the afternoon.

Friday and Saturday. Big Eleven Lake, Kansas City, Kan. 913-963-1118. juneteenthkck.com. Free.

According to locally based historian Erik Stafford, Kansas City once hosted the nation’s second-largest Juneteenth celebration. “Picking Up the Torch” on Saturday in the Jazz District is an attempt toward reclaiming the city’s pre-eminence in the celebration of the holiday. Stafford will offer hourly walking tours of the Jazz District from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. A gospel jubilee, a talent contest and the Laughin’ Hella Hard Comedy Show starring Atlanta-based comedian Shawty Shawty are among the events that will be held inside the Gem Theater.

11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday. 18th & Vine. 816-472-0013. juneteenthkc.com. There’s no admission charge to attend the street fair. Entry to events at the Gem Theater ranges from $2.50 to $20. Stafford’s walking tours are $5.

World Cup Watch Parties

The FIFA World Cup, one of the world’s most popular sporting events, opens in Brazil on Thursday. Most rabid local soccer fans can’t afford the time or financial commitment to travel to South America to take in the monthlong tournament. Fortunately for people who prefer to root for their favorite players and teams in the company of others, KC Live! in the Power & Light District and Yard House in Kansas City, Kan., are two of several area establishments that will air every match played in Brazil. Sporting KC’s Matt Besler and Graham Zusi (pictured) are on the USA roster that will begin tournament play against Ghana on Monday.

Thursday-July 13. Power & Light District. 816-842-1045. powerandlightdistrict.com. Free.

The Yard House, 1863 Village West Parkway, Kansas City, Kan. 913-788-4500. yardhouse.com. Free.

Nice Peter

To paraphrase the title of an Elvis Presley album, 10,000,000 Nice Peter fans can’t be wrong. Videos by the comedic rapper Nice Peter have racked up more than 2 billion views. Almost 10 million people subscribe to his “Epic Rap Battles of History” channel on YouTube. Nice Peter’s gimmick is simple. Famous figures portrayed by actors are pitted against each other. Representative entries include Barack Obama battling Mitt Romney, Miley Cyrus attempting to best Joan of Arc and Napoleon Bonaparte sneering at Napoleon Dynamite. The premise — akin to a rap-oriented version of the output of “Weird Al” Yankovic — will be enacted on the Granada’s stage on Friday.

8 p.m. Friday. The Granada, 1020 Massachusetts St., Lawrence. 785-842-1390. thegranada.com. $18 in advance.

Don McLean and Judy Collins

Singing along with Don McLean on his epic song “American Pie” is a priceless bucket-list item. Hearing Judy Collins revive her hit version of Joni Mitchell’s reflective “Both Sides, Now” is another worthwhile goal. Friday’s inspired double bill at Knuckleheads will allow hundreds of baby boomers to cross two life-affirming experiences off their checklists. The recording career of troubadour McLean, 68, began in 1970. The crystalline voice of Collins, 75, helped popularize the nascent folk revival of the ’60s. By championing the insurgent work of Mitchell, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, the wholesome Collins acted as an unlikely subversive.

8:30 p.m. Friday. Knuckleheads, 2715 Rochester. 816-483-1456. knuckleheadshonkytonk.com. $68.50 in advance.

Festival on the Trails

Classic rock from the ’80s and country hits of the ’90s will thunder throughout downtown Gardner this weekend. Festival on the Trails features Shooting Star on Friday and John Michael Montgomery (pictured) on Saturday. Shooting Star, one of the most commercially successful rock bands to originate in Kansas City, racked up extensive radio play with melodic songs including “Last Chance.” The chart-topping ballad “I Can Love You Like That” helped make the Kentucky-born Montgomery a country star. The two-day event also includes a car show, children’s activities, a “chat-fest” and additional live entertainment.

Fridayand Saturday. Downtown Gardner. festivalonthetrails.com. Free.

Parkville River Jam Jazz, Blues and Fine Arts Festival

English Landing Park, one of the area’s most inviting public spaces with an expansive riverside vista, is the site of the 2014 Parkville River Jam Jazz, Blues and Fine Arts Festival. The event allows patrons to enjoy art and music while admiring the abiding flow of the Missouri River. Notable entertainers include smooth jazz artist Max Groove and the rocking blues of John Paul’s Flying Circus on Friday. Jazz vocalist Angela Hagenbach and the up-and-coming blues ensemble Katy Guillen and the Girls (pictured) are part of Saturday’s lineup. Painters, sculptors, jewelers and clothiers will be among the vendors showcasing their wares.

Friday and Saturday. English Landing Park. parkvilleriverjam.com. Free.

Scottish Highland Games

Kilted athletes will tussle in wrestling matches, “live steel swordfights” and other traditional Scottish sporting competitions. Yet watching burly men sweat is just one of the many attractions of the Kansas City Scottish Highland Games festival. Children can partake in a full slate of youth activities that includes castle building, while their elders take advantage of cultural programming and whiskey tastings. The Mahones, an Irish-themed punk band from Toronto, are among Friday’s entertainers. Seven Nations, a Celtic-rock band from Florida, headline on Saturday and Sunday.

Friday-Sunday. E.H. Young Park, Riverside. kcscottishgames.org. Three-day passes are $25. Single-day admission is $10. Children 12 and under are free.


After seven years of bringing other communities together with music, PorchFest makes its Kansas City debut on Saturday. The concept originated in Ithaca, N.Y., in 2007, as front porches of residences were temporarily transformed into stages. The West Plaza neighborhood joins the national party with more than 70 sets of musicians. Participants ranging from the familiar to the unheralded will perform a range of styles including bluegrass, Celtic, classical, folk, jazz and rock. Listeners are encouraged to discover new music and make new friends as they stroll through the neighborhood. (Pictured is Maria the Mexican, which is part of PorchFestKC.)

Saturday. West Plaza neighborhood. . porchfestkc.com. Free, donations encouraged.

International Dragon Boat Festival

The 10th anniversary of the International Dragon Boat Festival on the Country Club Plaza will include four new fiberglass boats that were made for the event. Imported from China, the vessels are part of a fleet that will participate in the commemoration of the death of Qu Yuan in 278 B.C. According to Chinese legend, friends and admirers of the statesman and poet used boats, noise and food in an effort to protect his body from hungry fish after Qu Yuan threw himself into a river. The boat races, music and dancing on display Saturday are in acknowledgment of the tragedy. Qu Wanshen, a descendant of Qu Yuan, will attend.

8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Brush Creek on the Country Club Plaza. kcparks.org. Free.

Ride the Fountains Bicycle Tour

Prior to the current cultural renaissance that’s symbolized by the addition of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts to the skyline, one of Kansas City’s primary claims to fame was its plethora of fountains. Civic boosters have long claimed that only Rome has more fountains than Kansas City. Cyclists participating in one of three separate rides on Sunday — 10, 24 and 36 miles — will admire dozens of the city’s finest fountains on the Ride the Fountains Bicycle Tour. Each route begins at Union Station, the site of the imposing Henry Wollman Bloch Fountain.

8 a.m. Sunday. Union Station. kcparks.org. $40, advance registration required.

Heart of America Shakespeare Festival: ‘The Winter’s Tale’

Cinnamon Schultz, one of the region’s most distinctive actors, is cast in the central role of Hermione in the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s production of “The Winter’s Tale.” The part should play to Schultz’s strengths of physical humor and deceptive charm. She’ll undoubtedly make audiences in Southmoreland Park gasp as she delivers lines like “My prisoner or my guest? By your dread verily, one of them you shall be.” Scott Cordes is among the other notable cast members in the engaging, weighty and occasionally bawdy comedy.

8 p.m. Tuesday-July 6. Southmoreland Park. 816-531-7728. kcshakes.org. Free, donations encouraged.