Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper,” aren’t scheduling too many speaking engagements this year. But they made an exception for Kansas City.
The Gaineses are in town to speak twice on the main stage at the Greater Kansas City Home Show at Bartle Hall, 3 p.m. today and noon Sunday.
“We obviously can’t afford to do the dozens or hundreds of these things that we get asked to do,” said Chip. “This season has been so busy with the Silos, the book (due out in this fall) and the show that we cleared our schedule of these. But we really wanted to come to Kansas City because of all the support it’s shown us.” (Former silos were refurbished in Waco, Texas, becoming shops for the couple’s endeavors.)
Chip recently told PopSugar.com that he fell in love with Kansas City, and he’d live here if he weren’t in Texas. On Saturday morning, during a press conference, he and Joanna explained why.
In addition to their rabid fans here, they said they’re struck by Kansas City’s mix of old and new architecture.
“Every time we find another street, we just feel like ‘this is an amazing district,’ ” said Joanna, who was wearing a KC heart T-shirt from Charlie Hustle. “A lot of characteristics here remind you of a big city but also a small town.”
Chip said they were driving around the other day and were amazed that every third building seemed to date to the turn of the 20th century.
“And then there will be a beautiful modern building right next to it,” he said. “It’s really cool the way it’s kept its culture.”
They have no plans to move production of “Fixer Upper” out of Waco, but if they ever do, Kansas City would certainly be tops on their list of places to remodel homes for the show, they said. Same goes if they ever decide to open Magnolia Market franchises in other cities.
Dozens of fans lined up behind a barricade four hours before the Gaineses’ appearance, and screamed and hollered at the couple every time they glanced their way. The Gaineses’ rewarded them by taking a quick selfie with them.
Christine Sims said she drove four and half hours from Edmond, Okla., to see the couple. Sims’ sister, Jan Morrey, of Kansas City, was supposed to babysit grandchildren — something she was very much looking forward to — but canceled when she heard the Gaineses were coming to town.
“Their designs are so welcoming and down-to-earth and you can afford them,” Sims said.
“It’s also their personalities,” said Morrey. “They are precious.”
“I love the way they include their kids and their parents,” Sims added.
The Gaineses’ journey to fame began several years ago when they were flipping houses together in Waco. From there, Chip started a construction company, Magnolia Homes, and Joanna began blogging about it.
One day a woman named Katie Neff of High Noon Entertainment, which specializes “in creating unscripted, character-driven programming” for channels such as The Food Network, Animal Planet and TLC, invited the couple to what Chip calls “a seminar” because she thought they had potential for a reality show.
Chip thought it was a scam, but Joanna didn’t so they went and, obviously, made quite an impression.
Chip says they’ve been astounded by the upward trajectory of the show, now in its third season, and the effect it’s had on their lives. He compared it with that of a young, talented athlete who is discovered one year, gets signed to a team the next and explodes the year after.
Three years ago, he said, he could walk down a street and if people yelled ‘Hey, Chip!’ he’d know them by name. That’s not always true now, and it’s a little strange and surreal.
“Sometimes it doesn’t feel like us, it feels like we’re watching someone else,” said Joanna.
The Magnolia Market and the Silos are becoming quite the tourist attraction.
Chip said a woman told him recently: “I feel like I found the hottest hair stylist in town before everyone else and now I can’t get in to see her.”