Best Fall Festivals In and (Mostly) Outside of Kansas City
An autumnal cheat sheet for outdoor fun.
KC Irish fest
From September through early November, Kansas City is ripe with the bounty of harvests, so like most fun-loving Midwesterners, we find clever ways to celebrate the gifts of Mother Earth. Herewith we present 15 of our favorite ways to ring in the season of crisp air and colorful leaves.
KC Irish Fest
Crown Center Square, Kansas City, Mo.
They say if you are lucky enough to be Irish, you are lucky enough. Celebrate Kansas City’s rich Celtic heritage in a big, proud way during the three-day festival at Crown Center featuring live music from 18 local and national bands on seven stages playing contemporary and Celtic music, plus dancing and various workshops. The concerts really are the heart of this festival, but there is plenty of shopping, food and kid-friendly activities.
$5 to $30. kcirishfest.com
Historic Independence Square, Independence, Mo.
Every year since 1973, Independence, Missouri, has commemorated the origin of the Santa Fe, California and Oregon trails by hosting the area’s oldest and largest festival. More than 300,000 attendees visit the mega-event that runs through Labor Day weekend. You’ll see exhibitors for miles with 500 unique booths filled with all manner of festival food, craftsmen displaying their wares, blacksmith demonstrations and artists of many genres. Entertainment stages host a variety of music and entertainment acts with square dancing, and the carnival has plenty of thrill rides for the kids and kids at heart, plus other fun activities.
Admission is free (excluding carnival rides). santacaligon.com
Johnson County Old Settlers
Downtown Olathe, Kan.
Featuring live entertainment, the crowning of Sweet 6 (pageant for 6-year-olds), and an ice cream social, arts and crafts fair, carnival, flower show, horseshoe pitching, and antique auto show, Old Settlers boasts the largest parade in the state of Kansas.
Admission is free (excluding carnival rides). johnsoncountyoldsettlers.com
Lenexa Spinach Festival
Sept. 10, 9 a.m.
Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park, Lenexa, Kan.
During the 1930s, Lenexa was dubbed the spinach capital of the world. Come out and celebrate that long-standing title with a trip to this quirky little family festival filled with food, music and all-around entertainment, including cooking demonstrations and children’s activities. Festival-goers routinely submit spinach-based recipes, and awards are given for the best appetizer, salad, entree and dessert that incorporate the green goods. The festival also includes a juried art, craft and antique show and the world’s largest spinach salad — 150 pounds of fresh, washed greens!
Prairie Village JazzFest
Sept. 10, 3 p.m.
Harmon Park, Prairie Village, Kan.
Thousands of jazz enthusiasts come together annually in the quaint township of Prairie Village, where patrons enjoy food, drink and artistry while taking in the sounds of The Sons of Brasil, Chris Hazelton’s Boogaloo 7, the legendary Marilyn Maye and others in a fabulous lineup of jazz greats.
Free to $5. pvkansas.com
KC Cigar Festival
Sept. 10, 11 a.m.
Diebel’s Sportsmens Gallery, Kansas City, Mo.
This rooftop party on the Country Club Plaza is a haven for cigar enthusiasts. Patrons get face time with cigar manufacturers and accessories distributors while they fill souvenir bags to the brim with some of the finest stogies on this side of the Mississippi. There’s also plenty of opportunity to mingle with other cigar fans and enjoy on a number of food and adult beverage options, plus a raffle benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City.
$50 to $240. kccigarfestival.com
Liberty Fall Festival
Liberty Area Chamber of Commerce, Liberty, Mo.
You’ll find plenty of food and drink, artisans and a colorful carnival along with more than 150 quality artists and craftsmen who man row after row of booths stocked with original designs in a variety of art forms such as textiles, wearables, ceramics, decorative and functional wood, jewelry, leather, photography, paintings, prints and metal work.
Admission is free (excluding the carnival). libertyfallfest.com
Overland Park Fall Festival
Sept. 24, 9 a.m.
Santa Fe Commons Park, Overland Park, Kan.
Johnson County’s largest festival of the year includes a festive parade through downtown Overland Park featuring local high school bands, scout and dance troupes, and local businesses and dignitaries. There are a number of live performances on three stages throughout the day; the bountiful farmers’ market; a classic car show; and entertainment for the kiddos in the whimsical Children’s Pavilion, which includes face painting and a craft workshop. The festival also features a convoy of Kansas City’s finest food trucks.
overland Park fall festival
Louisburg Cider Mill Ciderfest and Craft Fair
Sept. 24- & 25 and Oct. 1- & 2
Louisburg Cider Mill, Louisburg, Kan.
Families flock to the Louisburg Cider Mill for the Mill’sits best event of the year. Kids love to hop on a pony for the thrill of the ride or get lost in the 10- acre corn maze. The pumpkin patch is ripe for the picking at this time of year, and the kiddos love to choose from the virtual ocean of pumpkins in the 10- acre pumpkin patch. Mom loves the country store during the weekend-long festival. There’s plenty of live entertainment and old- fashioned good eats, including barbecue and kettle corn. Plus, who doesn’t love to watch the cider press in action? Take home a jug of the sweet, pure, fresh- squeezed apple-y goodness the Louisburg Cider Mill has become famous for, and don’t forget the apple doughnuts!
Free to $8. louisburgcidermill.com
louisburg cider mill
Wild West Days
Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm Historic Site, Olathe, Kan.
Relive the excitement of the Wild, Wild West at the annual two-day event, which features live entertainment, games, roping, a stagecoach ride, encampments and hands-on activities like gold panning, branding and leather stamping. There’s also an elaborate stagecoach robbery, a chuckwagon cook-off, hands-on blacksmithing of an ‘S’ hook, tomahawk-throwing and more.
Free to $5. mahaffie.org
Oct. 1, 9:30 a.m.
Commercial Street Mall, Atchison, Kan.
The aroma of German food fills the fall air amongst a number of other food booths where the strong Kansas heritage of German residents is celebrated — this year for the 35th time. There are three parades, plenty of German beer and food, music and dancing. There are also 100-plus handmade craft booths, an eclectic lineup of volunteer musicians and other entertainers throughout the day.
Kansas City Japan Festival
Oct. 1, 10 a.m.
Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kan.
The Greater Kansas City Japan Festival is presented by the Heart of America – Japan America Society. The event aims to educate and fully immerse guests in an experience celebrating the history and culture of Japan. Patrons get a glimpse into the lives of Japanese people by taking in various cultural exhibits spotlighting anime, music, tea ceremonies, dance and martial arts.
Ticket info not available. kcjapanfestival.org
Kansas city japan festivaL
Historic Downtown Weston, Mo.
Known throughout the Midwest as one of the best fall festivals in Missouri and currently in its 28th year, Weston’s Applefest kicks off with a parade at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Throughout the weekend, you will step back in time and enjoy a slice of Missouri’s history as you take in the trades of candle-making, wood-turning and basket-weaving while sampling Weston’s famous apple dumplings, pies and apple butter. And for the kids, there are a variety of activities, including pony rides, face painting and pumpkin crafts. This festival is definitely worth the drive!
Free to $1. westonmo.com
Lenexa Chili Challenge
Old Town Lenexa, Kan.
Who doesn’t enjoy a good old-fashioned bowl of piping hot chili in autumn? The 2016 Lenexa Chili Challenge draws more than 200 chili-cooking teams to compete in chili, salsa and hot wings contests. In addition to the contests, Friday night festivities also include fireworks and live music. There is a new hot-pepper-eating contest held Saturday. Kids 12 and under are encouraged to show their cooking mastery in a cornbread cook-off. Bring a hearty appetite…and some antacids.
Day of the Dead Festival
Nov. 6, 10 a.m.
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Mo.
El Día de los Muertos aka Day of the Dead is a Mexican tradition that encourages gatherings of family and friends to honor and remember deceased relatives and popular figures. The public is invited to the lively Day of the Dead Festival at the Nelson for art activities, demonstrations, a traditional folkloric dance performance, live music and Mexican-inspired cuisine.
day of the dead festival