Kansas City's Fall Festival Classics

In Kansas City, we have an abundance of fall festivals. Whatever your taste, we’re sure there’s something on this list that will have you saying, “Let’s go!”
Photo courtesy Santa Cali Gon

Fall Classic

Ciderfest at the Louisburg Cider Mill is the granddaddy of fall festivals. For more than 40 years, a trip to the Cider Mill is THE sign that autumn has arrived. Start with successfully escaping the elaborate corn maze, celebrate that accomplishment with an apple cider and then enjoy activities from pony and hay rides to doughnut making. Finish it all off by strolling through a pumpkin patch to hand-select your own soon-to-be jack-o’-lantern. Ciderfest is September 29 & 30 and October 6 & 7. louisburgcidermill.com/ciderfest


photo courtesy of Louis cider mill


Cider Fest

photo courtesy of louisburg cider mill

Celtic Pride

To celebrate your Irish heritage or to just bask in all that the Emerald Isle has to offer, don’t miss the Kansas City Irish Fest, running from August 31 – September 2 at Crown Center. This year, the event is super-sized with 30 bands (Red Hot Chili Pipers, The Elders, The Young Dubliners and 27 more), a comedy stage, a whiskey tasting (Redbreast, Yellow Spot and Jameson Blenders Dog will all be present and accounted for), food booths (Soda bread is in the house!) a massive children’s area, shopping and even a genealogy station. kcirishfest.com


Irish Fest

Photo courtesy of Kansas City Irish fest 

Oui, Oui!

The Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival is where alcohol gets fancy. Learn how to craft an exquisite drink, hear from experts in the liquor industry and, of course, party. More than 40 thousand cocktails are expected to be served at this event. I’m sure at least one has your name on it. September 6 – 9. popfestkc.com


Paris of the Plains Bartending Competition

photo courtesy of Paris of the plains bartending competition

Hit the (Party) Trail

For almost 50 years, Independence has been celebrating the Santa Fe, California and Oregon trails with a SantaCaliGon Days Festival. (Try saying that three times fast.) This Labor Day weekend event attracts a huge crowd, because who doesn’t love a root beer chugging contest? Besides the root beer, there’s the “Main Street 1849 Experience” (with a blacksmith and other historical reenactments), carnival rides, food, arts & crafts, and loads of antique vehicles. August 31 – September 3. santacaligon.com


Santa Cali Gon Fair

photo courtesy of Santa cali gon 

Camp N Dance

Two great things that go great together — camping and dancing. Dancefestopia combines the love of the great outdoors with loads of music. This means you can be swimming and enjoying the outrageous tunage of Cookie Monsta. The event this year has an Emerald City theme so put on your ruby red slippers, and for three days and four nights (September 6 – 9), rock out in the woods south of Kansas City. dancefestopia.com



photo courtesy of dancefestopia 


Dancefestopia Map

dancefestopia emerald city map, photo courtesy of dancefestopia

Choo Choo

All aboard for the Belton Fall Festival, where you can hop aboard a train (the Belton Grandview) and enjoy classic fall fun in Belton’s historic downtown. Food stands (don’t miss Mary’s Mountain Cookies), live music, arts & crafts vendors and loads of kids activities are scheduled all day. September 7 & 8. mainstreetbelton.org


Eat Your Greens

Telling your kids that you’re going to a Spinach Festival on September 8 isn’t likely to make them shout, “Hooray!” so you might want to quickly add that besides the world’s largest spinach salad, there’s also other food that’s not green and leans more towards pure sugar. Plus, there’s family-focused entertainment. If you’re a spinach aficionado, be sure to take part in the spinach recipe contest. (There’s even a spinach dessert category. #hardpass) The City of Lenexa is sponsoring the festival to celebrate their leafy green heritage. Back in the 1930s Lenexa was the Spinach capital of the world. lenexa.com/spinach

Chalk It Up

Street painting dates back to the 16th century, and at the Chalk Walk Festival, you’ll be able to see modern-day artists creating masterpieces on brick canvases at Crown Center. This event, held September 8 & 9, is all about getting your creative juices flowing. There’s even areas for you and your kids to grab some chalk and make your own art. Be sure to enjoy the street performers and a curated craft fair. kcchalkandwalk.org


KC Chalk and Walk Artist

photo courtesy of kansas city chalk and walk 




Jazz Hands

If it’s classic jazz you want, then classic jazz you shall have at the Prairie Village Jazz Festival. With the event’s September 8 date, bring your SPF to Harmon Park to enjoy headliner Logan Richardson and local fav the Shawnee Mission East High School Blue Knights. This event attracts thousands of music lovers that groove out to tunes that celebrate the rich culture of Kansas City jazz. pvkansas.com




A Toast to Autumn

200 craft beers, ‘nuff said, right? But that’s just the tip of the keg at the KC Beer Festival on September 15. This annual event features beer (duh), rare keg tappings (Oh my!) and food booths with brew-inspired themes. (Don’t leave there without trying the Choopercabra. It’s a pork shoulder with green chili, tomatoes and onions drenched in gravy, baby.) There’s also live music, so you can sip (65 brewing companies will be offering up their wares), sup and enjoy the tunes while savoring the season. kcbeerfest.com






Barbecue Throw Down

The American Royal World Series of Barbecue is where the best in the BBQ biz compete to see who's the champ of smoked meats. It’s also where you can go to enjoy not just “cue,” but a wide assortment of food and adult beverages. There’s live music, a car show, carnival rides (I dare you to eat a big ole plate of barbecue and then ride the mechanical bull), a “Cow Town” kid zone and fireworks. So, get yourself some burnt ends and enjoy the fun on September 15 & 16. americanroyal.com




Meals on Wheels

If you’ve ever wondered what the big deal is about food trucks, then high tail it to the Lenexa Food Truck Frenzy on September 22. Here, all your questions will be answered as you stuff yourself with offerings that range from the Bacon Wagon to the Waffler. As an added bonus, you’re right next door to the Lenexa Public Market so don't miss checking out the cool factor of this happening place. lenexa.com/foodtruckfrenzy

Lenexa Food Truck Frenzy 2017

Photo courtesy by lenexa city center


Burning Up

Seeing Brush Creek on the Plaza all aglow from strategically set bonfires has a pretty high “wow” factor. Now add in live performances and you have a very unique evening. WaterFire lights up the creek on the evening of October 6. Be sure not to miss the Quixotic dancers or the Kansas City Drum Tribe — both will give you all the feels. waterfirekc.org


WaterFire KC 2014

photo courtesy waterfire kc

Fall in Liberty

If the promise of snow cones and cotton candy isn’t enough to make you haul pumpkins to the Liberty Fall Festival, then how about great live music, a carnival, a massive farmers’ market and a parade with multiple marching bands? The festivities begin on Friday, September 28 and run through September 30. libertyfallfest.com


Liberty Fall Festival

photo courtesy by liberty fall festival 

Travel to the Far East

Experience the exotic culture of Japan right in your own back yard when Johnson County Community College hosts their annual Japan Festival on October 6. From the breaking of a sake barrel to a traditional tea ceremony, the festival will transport you to the Land of the Rising Sun. Booths range from anime to a Japanese bazaar. Add in the cultural workshops, and you have an event that is edutainment at its finest. kcjapanfestival.org


KC Japan Festival

photo courtesy by kansas city japan festival 

Bavarian Brews

For a taste of Germany with a traditional Oktoberfest flair, all you need to do is head over to Crown Center on October 5 & 6. This is when the KC Bier Company is going all in on creating what they’re calling an "authentic Munich-style Oktoberfest." From German bands (polka!) to German food (schnitzel anyone?) to beer mugs that hold a liter of “Festbier,” this event is geared towards recreating a slice of Germany in Kansas City. kcbier.com


photo courtesy of istock 

Meet Miss Harvest

The Kansas City Harvest Festival is the perfect mix of the fall classics getting updated. There’s all the traditional events like hay rides and pumpkin patches, but what kicks this up a notch is the food truck crawl and the adult costume contest that some folks take very seriously. Also, new this year is the Miss Harvest pageant. If you have a child between the ages of 3 and 18, and you’re all about the tiara, this could be your moment of glory. The festivities are at Riverfest Park in De Soto, Kansas on October 6 from 3 to 9 p.m. kcharvestfest.com   


KC Harvest Hayride

photo courtesy of kansas city's harvest Festival


KC Harvest 2016

photo courtesy of kansas city's harvest festival 


Apple pies, apple dumplings, apple butter, apple cider, apple cookies, basically any food apple-related can be found at the Weston AppleFest on October 6 & 7.  And when you’re done stuffing your face with apple-y goodness, there’s a parade featuring antique cars, pony rides, a hay maze, pumpkin painting and arts & crafts booths. westonmo.com


Get Your Game of Thrones On

Okay, maybe the only things the Kansas City Renaissance Festival Harvest Huzzah has in common with Games of Thrones are dragons, knights and royalty, but isn’t that enough? Here’s an event where you can travel back in time (fantasy edition) and chow down on amazing barbecue while playing pumpkin ring toss. Pro tip – don’t miss the fairy house auction, and the costume contest is a hoot. The royal shenanigans are October 13 & 14. kcrenfest.com


KC Renaissance Festival

photo courtesy of kansas city renaissance festival 


KC Renaissance Festival

photo courtesy of kansas city renaissance festival 

Beauty and the Beer

Enjoy more than 90 craft beers while you soak up the sumptuous autumnal atmosphere of the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. The organizers of the Botanical Brewfest call this event on October 13 one of the “most beautiful” in the metro. Besides the beer, there’s food, music, dancing and games. artsandrec-op.org


photo courtesy of istock 

Bow Wow

If you feel guilty for leaving your best friend out of the fall fun, fear not; every dog has their day on October 6 at Barktober. This is a must-do event for any discerning canine, and Shawnee Mission Park is the place for your fur baby to make their mark. At Barktober, your four-legged bestie can swim, do a 5K and totally chill out with doggy yoga. There’s also a fashion show, live music and shopping so get ready for two enthusiastic paws up from your sweetie. barktoberfestkc.com



photo courtesy of barktoberfest kc

Doggone It!

With contests like best tail wagger, best kisser and best dog treat eater you can bet hordes of peeps will be bringing their fur kin to the Dogtober Fest on October 21. There’s also games, because who doesn’t want to do a sack race or “bob for biscuits” with their dog?  The pooch party is at the Kemper Outdoor Education Center at the Lake Jacomo/Fleming Park. makeyourdayhere.com

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Best of KC