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2014 Great Lenexa BBQ

This year’s competition had a bonus category available for competitors in which to to participate. Sponsored by McCormick Grill Mates, a 5th challenge in the delicious art of Seasoning with Grill Mates was available to anyone wanting to try their hand in this special category. Kansas City was one of only four other cities hosting McCormick Grill Mates for this special competition, and thanks to the team at McCormick, Visit KC’s Carolyn Anderson got to interview a couple of competitors who were eager to submit their creations to the judges.


Team: Fire in the Hole

While the Kansas City barbecue competition scene might get the most attention during The American Royal, there’s another major competition in town that heats up every June just across the border in Kansas. Since 1982, The Great Lenexa BBQ Battle has brought the best BBQ’ers around for the biggest competition in the state. It’s so big, in fact, that in 1984, Governor John Carlin declared the contest the official Kansas State Championship.  I was eager to see what the “second biggest Kansas City-area barbecue competition” was all about.


Ribs entry for The Great Lenexa BBQ Battle. Team: The Drizzlers

Kevin Boetcher and Ed Youngwirth of Team “Tender Racks N’ Smokin’ Butts” were competing for their 8th year at the Great Lenexa BBQ Battle. They opted to highlight the peppers and garlic spices in Grill Mates by making a Philly Tenderloin, adding fresh, grilled vegetables to their own specially cooked meat. Outside the competition, their creations can be enjoyed at The Rub Bar-B-Que in Olathe, KS. Ink Magazine recently added their “Hillbilly Bowl” to their barbecue bucket list, so I think these guys knew what they were doing!


Soon to become a delicious glaze.

Next up I visited Team Fire in the Hole to see what they thought might win them the judges vote in this new category. Tim Byrnes said joining this additional category was easy as they’ve been using McCormick Grill Mates for over 24 years and have won 3rd place in the miscellaneous category for a perfectly seasoned salmon. This year they decided to go big with a smoked prime rib. I got pretty jealous of the judges and what they’d get to be eating in just a few hours. This lineup of ingredients is only half of what would be seasoning the prime rib entry.

Finally, I got to take a few valuable minutes of the President’s time…the Kansas City Barbecue Society President, that is! Read more

Best Patios in KC

When wintery winds and record-breaking snowfalls are making themselves comfortable during the Kansas City winter, summertime sunsets and cold drinks on hot days seem like a dream. It’s summer in KC…get to one of the MANY patios throughout the city! Guest blogger Jessica Best (@bestofjess) shares a few of her faves. (She’d share more but we cut her off at eleven…)

It’s that time of year in Kansas City. The weather has somewhat sorted itself out (at least we aren’t expecting snow), temps are mild bordering on deliciously warm, and we see sunny days more often than drizzly ones. It’s patio weather!

I set off this week to document some of Kansas City’s finest patios. It was a really tough week – patio weather, great food and creative cocktails all week long. Somehow I managed. Since I deemed that the lawn of the Nelson didn’t count as a patio, below is my curated list of spots to put on your to do list this summer. Got any favorites to add? Post in the comments!

harrys2Harry’s Country Club
(the River Market)

Partially shaded

This is the patio you’re mostly to meet up after work. An extensive beer/drink menu, darn good food and a peek at the downtown skyline, Harry’s is a perfect spot to end a day or wrap up your week. As an added benefit, if it starts to downpour, you can pop into the open-feeling indoor patio and still get the feel of patio life in the summer.

Jacobson view of sunsetThe Jacobson (Crossroads)

Shaded (kind of), excellent sunset viewing spot

The Jacobson is one of the better craft cocktail menus for us patio surfers. Their food menu is pretty luscious, too. And best of all? The patio is mostly shaded thanks to the cabana bar starting at 5:30 or 6 and you still get a wide open sky view facing West for some of America’s best sunsets. (Seriously, Kansas City has the most incredible sunsets!)

Teocali (Hospital Hill)

3 patios for the price of 1!

After their recent renovations – which are closer to an overhaul – this is one of my absolute favorite spots. They have an open face on the 2nd floor, 2nd floor patio and 3rd floor patio. Don’t worry: there’s probably room on the patio for you. And the upstairs bar gives a nod to the décor you might find at a beach front spot, with a “roof” hanging over the liquor shelves. This place doesn’t just jive for lunch/happy hour, though. Stick around for salsa late nights!

bodegaLa Bodega (on the boulevard)

Cool vibe and excellent sangria
La Bodega is one of the best at the sidewalk café/sunset patio experience. Not only are their tapas outrageously good (and don’t think I’m skipping that sangria!), all of Sunset – er, I mean Southwest Boulevard is your oyster. Another great spot to watch the sun go down. And because their happy hour starts early, this is the spot you’re most likely to find co-workers starting before 5pm… If you don’t tell on them, they won’t tell on you!


Haus patioHaus (Martini Corner)

Shaded, cool décor

This spot gets points for its beer garden feel. With the windows open, the entire bar, including the indoor picnic tables, feels a little like a patio. Plus, their outdoor patio is well shaded to keep cool(er) when it gets blistering in August. Read more

KC Kids: Farm Fun at Deanna Rose

When Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead opened under a different name, in 1978, its primary focus was introducing children to farm animals. Today, the 12-acre Farmstead offers visitors a broad glimpse of 19th century life on and around a Kansas farm. Guests enter a site full of old-fashioned life experiences through the breezeway of a massive white -trimmed red barn. On a typical summer day 3,000-4,000 visitors check out the Farmstead, plus field trip and birthday party groups.

Renamed in 1985 to honor police officer Deanna Rose, who died in the line of duty, it’s still a place where goats playfully butt heads, donkeys accept pats, and owls participate in staring contests. Sunfish, hybrid bluegill, and catfish are among the plentiful stock awaiting youngsters who eagerly catch and release fish at Grandpa Bob’s Fishing Pond. And baby goats always race towards the first sight of children toting milk bottles.

deanna_dairybarnAt the Dairy Barn kids observe daily calf feedings and sit awestruck as milk surges through a tube into a large glass jar during milking machine demonstrations. They can even try their hand at milking a life-sized Holstein cow model named Rosie. Children, three years and older, may ride ponies around a circle-eight trail, directed by an attendant.

deanna_hayridesBelgian draft horses also pull large wagons during 10-15-minute hayrides through the woods, where children may spot deer and even an occasional bobcat; while outdoor wonders beckon along a nature trail and in the butterfly garden.

Visitors can also explore a Kanza Indian Encampment that includes two teepees, and an earthen lodge built anchored with huge timbers inside a short hillside. Beneath the bell tower at the one-room country school house, children can take their seats in old-fashioned desks before a wall-spanning chalkboard.

Deanna Rose IA small village lies to the left of the Farmstead entrance. Full of antique wood counters and vintage cash registers, the General Store stocks canned food and fabric bolts alongside old-fashioned toys, cowboy hats and rock candy. On hot summer days families make a beeline for hand-dipped ice cream and other snacks at Alex and Emily’s Ice Cream Parlor, and a visit to the bank lobby immediately inspires time-travel. Read more

Extend First Fridays to All Weekend Long

One day isn’t enough to contain the creative, artistic explorers of Kansas City! First Fridays has grown into far more than a single evening once a month. Guest blogger Diana Lambdin Meyer suggests making a weekend of it to take advantage of all there is to see the first weekends in KC.

westbottoms8Kansas City is widely recognized as having one of the largest First Friday Art Walks in the country with about 10,000 people hanging out in the Crossroads Arts District. It’s great, it’s fun, but it’s just one night. The success of the Crossroads and Kansas City’s growing reputation as a creative center has generated a need for new space.

For a full weekend of activities and some great buys in the vintage shopping department, head across the 12th Street bridge into the West Bottoms. Starting at 8 a.m. on Fridays and continuing until about 4 p.m. on Sundays, the old, cavernous warehouse, long abandoned by livestock traders and related industry, overflow with bargain hunters and some creatively re-purposed junk.

westbottoms7The last time I went, I ran into Stephanie Smith and her kids from Paola, KS. It was their first time to visit the West Bottoms on a First Weekend, and Stephanie was busy loading up her finds in the back of their SUV. She bought an industrial, restaurant-style trash can for the family kitchen.

“I think it will be fun, and kind of a conversation piece,” she laughed. Yes, a trash can as a conversation piece.

I fell in love with a goofy-looking set of concrete ducks/ducklings for $30 at Bella Patina. I thought they would be fun to put in the front yard for the summer. But by the time I looked through all three floors of stuff and came back to the ducks, they were gone. With nearly 10,000 in the West Bottoms on First Weekends, stuff disappears really fast.

(Con’t) Read more

Spotlight on Kansas City’s First Friday in June

First-Friday_006_PCIt’s the first week in June which means First Fridays in the Crossroads Art District is coming up! Guest blogger Jessica Best (@bestofjess) paints a perfect picture of how to make the most of this monthly Kansas City event. Enjoy these tips whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned First Friday fanatic.

A friend of mine just moved to town and is ready to make this Friday – June 6th – her first First Friday in Kansas City. She asked me what she should plan on so she gets the best experience and I realized that the fun list shouldn’t stay a secret. Biggest tip: there are TONS of things. This list is just a start – add your favorite galleries and stops in the comments!

First, a few tips on Parking & Transit:

  • Arrive early, as in before 5:30pm or so.
  • You may have better luck parking on the edges of the district (try McGee or West of Broadway).
  • Or take the KCATA bus into the crossroads! Lots of lines have stops in the area, and the Max is easy to hop on/off from downtown or the Plaza. (Check out the Max bus route/times here:

First-Friday_004_PCThis month will be especially crazy, since the Hospital Hill 5k runs right next to the art walk fun. It starts at 7pm and you can see the map here. [PDF]

Next important tip: Food! Many of the galleries will have small snacks, but you’ll probably at some point want something more substantial. I’m a big fan of the Food Truck Roundups at 18th & McGee (in the Kansas City Star parking lot) or 21st & Wyandotte. These trucks serve up some of the best food in KC and are part of a truly authentic First Friday experience. Rather rest your feet while you eat? ANY restaurant in the Crossroads will be both perfectly delicious and delightfully packed. I love Pizza Bella, Manny’s, The Westside Local and The Brick, personally.

For a summer-hot First Friday Art Walk, you’ll want something cool after wandering the district in the sun. Little Freshie is on 17th just a couple streets West of Broadway and they usually have their snow cone truck out and about with way cool flavors like raspberry rose and pineapple serrano pepper. If you’re looking for a bit of a spike in your punch, try the artfully frozen cocktails at Snow & Company at 18th & Wyandotte. They’re usually packed, but for good reason: those cocktails are exactly what First Friday needs!

First-Friday_005_PCAnd of course: The Art! If you’re anywhere near the Crossroads – defined loosely as 670 to Crown Center and Broadway to Grand St, but it definitely spreads beyond that in all directions! – you’ll see the flow of people. Just join the stream! Still not sure where to start? Pop into the galleries (and shops/offices that host art shows) along Baltimore, south of 20th and in the district around 18th & Wyandotte (where there are often street performers, too).

Some First Friday Art shows for June 6th that you may want to check out: Read more

Battle for the USA: World Cup Watch Parties in Kansas City

Soccer_Capital2Kansas City is becoming known now more than ever before for its love of soccer. You can almost feel the 2014 World Cup buzz in the air and we’ve still got over a week to go until the first match! Many Kansas City bars are preparing to show some, if not all, of the 64 games from June 12 – July 13. Check with your favorite bars to see if they will be broadcasting the games you want to see!

Where to Watch

“Fight and Sing for Victory” at these Kansas City-area bars. Know of other venues showing some or all of the games? Let us know in the comments section and we’ll add to our foursquare list!

usaKansas City Live!
Summer in the Soccer Capital, presented by Sprint, will kick off with Kansas City’s official 2014 FIFA World Cup watch parties hosted at KC Live! in the Power & Light District.

Kansas City Bier Company
Kansas City Bier Company will be a great place to catch all 64 games! They serve authentic German bier styles. Take a break in between the games and hang out in their biergarten.

Johnny’s TavernMultiple Locations
Multiple locations and many, many screens!

Futbol Club Eatery and Tapfutbol
The Futbol Club celebrates the game on all levels, locally, nationally, and globally with an impressive collection of memorabilia.

810 ZoneMultiple Locations
TVs on every wall? Perfect.

Westport Ale House
A recent addition to the Westport scene, they specialize in American beers and beer cocktails and offer an upscale sports bar menu that includes Maryland crab tater tots.

Let the countdown begin. Get ready by checking out this chant you’ll be hearing at the USA games!

Other Events:

martini-corner-soccer-logo_FINAL-2June 21 and 22 bring with it the 1st Annual Martini Corner Street Soccer Tournament! A weekend soccer tournament played in the streets of Martini Corner, the event includes a Watch Party for the USA v Portugal Watch Party on June 22nd.



Carolyn_HeadshotCarolyn Anderson (@hellocarolynj) is the Social Media Manager for Visit KC. She lives, works and plays in Kansas City. Her favorite way to experience any city is through good food, good drinks and with good company. When she’s not working on all things #KC, she loves to cook, travel, run, and listen to your interesting stories.

5 Beautiful KC Burgers

May, and National Hamburger Month, are both coming to a close this week! #KC has been getting attention for our barbecue for ages, but our burgers are making Best Of lists as well! Guest blogger Matt Eyman recommends 5 tasty burgers to add to your must-eat-this-burger list.

I’ve got good news and bad news. Bad news is we’re into the final days of National Hamburger Month and I’m willing to bet you haven’t properly celebrated. The good news? With 5 days remaining in May, there’s still enough time to try all of my favorite Kansas City burgers – and even go back for seconds!

First, some rules – or actually, one rule: Burgers are made of meat. I’m sure that there are plenty of restaurants out there that mash black beans and falafel into quite the palatable patty, but for the sake of my stomach – and thus for MY writing – burgers are made of tasty, tasty animals.

And with that, my favorite burgers in Kansas City:

beer ktichenBeer KitchenThe Smokestack
Sure, this list is arranged alphabetically, but I’ll still call out The Smokestack as my hands-down favorite burger in KC. The patty is topped with better burnt ends than I’ve found in many Kansas City BBQ shacks. Rounding things out? Smoked gouda, whisky BBQ glaze, chipotle aioli and crispy jalapeño straws. If you haven’t yet eaten this burger, you really need to question your dedication to being a carnivore.


brgrBRGR KC Butcher
The burger (sorry, BRGR) itself is a mix of Omega 3 chuck and short rib, but then they do it one better by topping it with hangar steak. There’s caramelized onions and roasted garlic, plus a horseradish cream cheese that has just the right amount of kick. Oh, and then they throw on an unnaturally large onion ring to make sure that it can’t properly fit into your mouth. I say, “Challenge accepted.”


jaconsbnThe JacobsonThe Jacobson
Whoa, fancy! If you’re going to name a burger after your restaurant, you want to pull out all the stops, and that The Jacobson did! Topped with short rib marmalade and bone marrow butter, every time I take a bite I feel like I should check in with my portfolio manager. Then I remember that I don’t have a portfolio manager and go back to my meal.


louisLouie’s Wine Dive Rise & Shine Burger
Angus beef is encrusted in ground coffee and then topped with an over-easy egg, applewood-smoked bacon and maple aioli. Served with a side of fries that are great for sopping up the rogue egg yolk. This meal pairs perfectly with bottomless mimosas and the decision to blow off your diet and the rest of your day’s responsibilities.


town topicTown TopicBacon Double Cheeseburger
Every single out-of-town guest I’ve ever had has ended up at Town Topic. They’ve been slinging out diner food since 1937, and I’m pretty sure some of these people have been working there since the beginning. Sure their thin-press patties have no frills, but that’s what some might call that “classic”. While good anytime, to be truly appreciated, this burger is definitely at it’s best around 3:00am.


As Senior Community Manager for Yelp Kansas City, Matt Eyman knows a thing or two about good food. To watch him real-time as he ruins his diet (and see pictures of his dogs!) simply follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

Memorial Day Weekend at The National World War I Museum

The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial is a special place to visit here in Kansas City. It is the nation’s official World War I Museum and “inspires thought, dialogue, and learning to make the experiences of the World War I era meaningful and relevant for present and future generations.” As we remember those who died serving our country, take part in these special events ahead this Memorial Day weekend in Kansas City: 

wwi4Vintage Military Vehicle Display
Saturday May 24- Sunday May 25, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The Military Vehicle Preservation Association will showcase more than 30 vehicles from World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm.

A Landmark Reborn: The Restoration of the Liberty Memoriawwi
Saturday May 24, 1 p.m
President Calvin Coolidge declared the Liberty Memorial the nation’s monument to the World War in 1926 and it has defined the Kansas City skyline since. Join a provocative conversation with architect Susan Richards Johnson on the recent restoration and historic preservation of this beautiful landmark.

wwi2Bank of America Celebration at the Station
Sunday May 25, 8 p.m.

One of Kansas City’s favorite traditions is located on the Museum’s North Lawn. The Kansas City Symphony, led by Music Director Michael Stern, performs patriotic favorites against the backdrop of Kansas City’s historic Union Station. Celebration at the Station concludes with fireworks display over the Liberty Memorial. Free to the public.

wwi3Memorial Day
May 26, All Day

The Museum will host several events honoring those who served on Memorial Day, including a free public ceremony at 10 a.m. featuring a performance from mezzo-soprano Tara Cooper. More than 100 Walk of Honor bricks will be dedicated during a ceremony at 1 p.m. featuring a performance from U.S. Army Chorale member and local Iraq veteran Ron Guiterrez. Blue Bell will serve free samples of the new ice cream flavor (“Red, White and Blue Bell”) from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. A free shuttle service from the Crown Center parking lot at Grand & 27th Streets is available from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.


The Kansas City Automotive Museum is a new museum in Olathe, Kansas north of 119th and Strang Line. The Museum highlights significant Kansas City automotive history such as 1965 Le Mans winner Masten Gregory (the “Kansas City Flash”) and the Ford Winchester Plant. Along with the rich automotive history on display, The Kansas City Auto Museum has many interactive spaces like the Fairyland Drive-In and a family-friendly area equipped with four driving simulators.

Future plans for the Kansas City Automotive Museum include a much larger facility big enough to rival the best automotive museums in the country.

This blog was originally published on

Kansas City was one of the biggest markets in the country without an automotive museum, but that’s now been rectified thanks to the staff of the new Kansas City Automotive Museum! (Technically, there is the Armacost Museum in Grandview but it’s a private thing only open to selected people/groups.)

The museum just opened earlier in May and it’s current location is just north of 119th & Strang Line Road in Olathe. Yes, the location is not the most “Kansas City” of spots but the museum is clear that this is a temporary home and they have plans to be in a much larger facility in the next 4-5 years. I’d love to see it as part of Union Station but have no idea if there’s the kind of space available there that’s needed.


Just north of 119th & Strang Line at 116th Street.

Anyway, the Museum partnered with the Mustang Club of Greater Kansas City for an only-a-month-late 50th birthday party for the Mustang, so about 30 of us brought our cars out to display in the parking lot today, and we also got to check out the museum.


A WWII Jeep (built by Ford though) along with a gorgeous 1963 Buick

The museum houses approximately 30 cars on loan from private collectors, as well as from KC Vintage Cars. They don’t appear to own any of the cars, which is probably an advantage for them as this stage since they can easily switch out displays, etc. without having to worry about all the details of ownership at this point. The collection ranges in age from a Ford Model T, Stanley steam-powered car and a Hupmobile all the way up to a first-gen Dodge Viper.

But, to be frank, the collection isn’t much better than you can see at a lot of the different cruise nights found throughout the warm months here in KC. The coolest part about the Museum, to me, is all the Kansas City history they’ve collected and presented really, really well.


Just some of the great history.

Read more

Happy Birthday to Thomas Hart Benton

benton4_revToday, we remember Thomas Hart Benton on the 125th Anniversary of his birthday. Benton was one of the 20th century’s greatest artists with an unmistakable style in the way he captured American history through art. Born in Neosho, Missouri, Benton was a resident of Kansas City, Missouri from 1935-1975. Many upcoming area events honor Thomas Hart Benton. You can even tour the home he shared with his wife, Rita at 3616 Belleview Avenue in Kansas City. 

Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site

April 27, 2pm

  • KCAI’s student-led GRUPPO performs a musical-theater work celebrating Benton’s life, art and music at his historic home courtyard

November 26-December 31

  • Benton-designed, family Christmas cards are on display at his home

The Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall Read more


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