Joco Diversions

June is bustin’ out all over with Johnson County arts events

“Mary and Martha”

Johnson County residents will get treated to a screening of the powerful new drama “Mary and Martha,” which recently premiered in conjunction with World Malaria Day


The film stars Oscar winner Hilary Swank and Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn as mothers who lose their children to malaria and embark on a campaign to halt its spread in Africa. Malaria kills 655,000 people a year, but it is preventable and treatable through inexpensive methods such as bed netting, spraying and medicines. The movie screens at 7 p.m. June 4 at the Matt Ross Community Center, 8101 Marty St. The event (sponsored by HBO Films and The ONE Campaign) is free.

Dog and Pony Show

Canines and equines unite to benefit the non-profit organization Canine Companions for Independence, which provides assistance dogs to people with disabilities. The Dog and Pony Show is hosted by the Mid-America Saddlebred Horse Club, and it kicks off fittingly with a Saddlebred exhibition. Cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a 4-course meal follows, then a fashion show commences that will also feature the latest doggie attire. Fox 4 meteorologist Joe Lauria will emcee the event. The Dog and Pony Show begins at 6:30 p.m. June 7 at the Ritz Charles, 9000 West 137th St. Tickets are $75.

Dinosaur Petting Zoo

“Jurassic Park” taught us that human and dinosaur interaction is fraught with peril. However, the experience can be simulated for maximum enjoyment via the Dinosaur Petting Zoo. An Australian theatre company called Erth will present the event at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. June 7-8 in Polsky Theatre, located in the Carlsen Center at Johnson County Community College. Puppets bring the prehistoric era to life, from a cuddly baby Allosaur to massive T-Rex. Children are invited to feed, water and care for these creatures. Tickets are $16 for adults and $12 for 12 and under. More info available at

Greek Festival

Opa! Old-world culture emerges in Overland Park at the annual Greek Festival put on by St. Dionysios Greek Orthodox Christian Church, 8100 W. 95th St. The fest offers an array of food (such as spanakopites and dolmathes), dancing by the Delta Dynamis and Ikouyennia dancers, and plenty of shopping. Patrons can browse the Plaka (Athenian marketplace) for imported clothes, jewelry and Greek-inspired icons. The Greek Festival runs 5 p.m.-10 p.m. June 7; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. June 8; and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. June 9. More info available at

Author Alex Grecian

The New York Times bestseller “The Yard” offered one of 2012’s best reads — a detailed look at the first year of Scotland Yard, when only a dozen detectives were assigned to the thousands of homicides in London. Now author Alex Grecian returns with “The Black Country,” which finds the so-called “Murder Squad” investigating the disappearance of a prominent family from a coal-mining village in the British Midlands. The Topeka-based writer will discuss his work and answer audience questions at 7 p.m. June 11, at Rainy Day Books, 2706 W 53rd St. The admission package of $26.95 includes one hardcover copy of “The Black Country” and two admission tickets. More info available at