The beginning of Fall is sometimes a moving target, in Kansas City. While the accurate astronomical date for 2019 is September 23rd, the meteorological comes on September 1st. For many parents around the metro, it starts once the kids go back to school. For us, we consider the unofficial beginning to take place when the various city and town celebrations start. School season may begin earlier and earlier, but kicking off the Fall festival season in Kansas City usually centers around labor day weekend. Today, we are taking a look at some of our favorite autumn occurrences that you may want to add to your calendar. Since these festivals take place across a space of multiple weekends, you may want to bookmark this page for future reference.
Ethnic Enrichment Festival
For 40 years, the Ethnic Enrichment Festival has brought the flavors of the world to Kansas City. Occurring in mid-August, it signals to us that the Fall festival season is right around the corner. The timing of this event can make for some hot times, both from the entertainment, as well as the weather. Located in Swope Park, this annual event focuses on international food and entertainment. With a wide variety of cuisines available, you can eat your way around the globe. Once you’ve had your fill, be sure to enjoy some of the delightful performances by local artists. (Get a taste of the Ethnic Festival here.)
Once we make it to Labor Day, things really take off. The three-day weekend is filled with various happenings across the metro. One of our favorites is Santa-Cali-Gon Days in downtown Independence. This celebration covers the historic square, and some side streets, as well. Hundreds of vendors descend on the area to offer up food, merchandise, and services. A large carnival is always present, to the delight of kids of all ages. Two stages provide entertainment for the thousands of visitors that this festival draws throughout the four-day event. This is also one of our favorite people-watching opportunities of the year. (Discover 10 reasons to visit Santa-Cali-Gon here.)
KC Renaissance Festival
If you are looking for entertainment with a twist, head out to Bonner Springs for the annual Renaissance Festival. As you cross the threshold into this magical realm, you will be whisked back to the Middle Ages. For seven weekends a troop of character actors brings the Renaissance period to life in this wooded area of western Wyandotte County. Here is another great people-watching place, and we love to see the actors interacting with the crowd. Be sure to try a huge turkey leg or one of the other handheld dishes. It’s fun for all ages, but it can be difficult to navigate after rain. (Explore more of this Old World treat here.)
Not all of the events that take place in the fall festival season cover multiple days. One that happens close to our home, is the Grinter Applefest at Grinter Place. This annual festival focuses on the fall apple harvest, so you can bet there will be plenty of treats that utilize this delectable fruit. Of course, there are also vendors selling plenty of other products, even some good ole Kansas City BBQ. While you are there, be sure to take a tour of the oldest home in Wyandotte County. It has quite a story. (You can see inside the Grinter House here.)
All across the metropolitan region, there are smaller hometown festivals taking place. Each of them gives the local residents a chance to show off their community pride. Most of these are similar, but each has its own localized twist. We find these a good opportunity to see some local musicians, as well as shopping from local artists. There are usually some good food options at these events, but we may use the time in a new place to explore the local restaurant scene. Of course, many times we will locate a tempting dessert option.
For many, the fall festival season culminates around Halloween. For me, this is an especially fun time of year. When our kids were young, I enjoyed going all out on decorating for the holiday. As they grew up, it became apparent that it was time to turn this tradition over to a younger generation. I still enjoy all of the haunts and scares that come with this time of year. Our visit to Worlds of Fun’s Halloween Haunt showed me that there is a safe, fun way to get these thrills without all of the work. (Check out the frights here.)
It may seem that an event like Winterfest would move us out of the fall festival season, but the reality is that winter doesn’t even start until December 22nd. That means this holiday-themed event can be enjoyed during the back half of autumn. We have only made it out once, but we hope to check it out again this year to see what has changed. This family-friendly event offers up a handful of rides, lots of entertainment, and plenty of food and drinks. (Explore 10 reasons to visit Winterfest here.)
Kicking Off the Fall Festival Season
It’s time to wave goodbye to summer and embrace the coming fall festival season. With lots of weekend events to enjoy, we will have to really plan out our visits. We would love to hear about some of your favorite Kansas City fall festivals. Feel free to give us some details in the comments below. We will try to make it to as many as possible. The comments will remain, so other readers will be able to refer to your suggestions in years to come. In the meantime, be sure to check out some of the local events and enjoy the fruits of fall.