Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The summer is loaded with food and drink festivals. Here's where to go.

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2012 at 8:00 AM

The grill is always a little fuller during the summer months.
  • The grill is always a little fuller during the summer months.
The joy of summer is not slimming down to fit into a swimsuit or picking at a salad of baby greens. This is about putting on your winter weight with glorious bites of barbecue and deep gulps of wine. There's no shortage of folks in the heartland who want to feed you - or ply you with beer, wine and spirits. Here is a list of food and drink festivals that will keep your belly full and your fork hand busy.

Behind every great meal is often a family tradition. And there's a host of tradition at the 51st annual Greek Festival held by St. Dionysios Greek Orthodox Church (8100 West 95th Street, Overland Park) Friday, June 8, through Sunday, June 10. Fill up on souvlaki, gyro plates, spanakopita and baklava while traditional Greek dancers take the stage. Or walk through the Plaka, a re-creation of an Anthenian marketplace, with clothing, jewelry and ephemera for sale. The festival runs 5 - 10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Sunday.

Kansas wine has come a long way. Find your favorite at Winesong at Riverfest Saturday, June 16. The annual festival on the banks of the Kansas River in De Soto's Riverfest Park (33440 West 79th Street) features 14 different Kansas wineries. Drink up from 4 to 8 p.m. at this benefit for the De Soto Rotary Club. Admission costs $15 and includes light appetizers.

The Great Lenexa Barbeque Battle has all the joy of tailgating without the nuisance of leaving the parking lot for the game. The two-day contest, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, takes place Friday, June 22, and Saturday, June 23, at Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park (87th Street and Lackman Road). The official Kansas State Championship brings out hundreds of smokers who believe that they're producing the best ribs, chicken, sausage, pork and whole animals (yes, one of the categories is whole animal) in the state. Admission costs $5 on Friday, 4:30 - 11 p.m., and $1 on Saturday, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Children under 12 are admitted free.)

Sometimes you've got to stop and smell the pinot. Stems, the annual benefit for the Arts & Recreation Foundation of Overland Park, is 7 - 11 p.m. Saturday, June 23, at the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens (8909 West 179th Street). Sip wine and munch on hors d'oeuvres while leisurely strolling through the garden soirée. Tickets cost $85.

The urban-farm movement isn't slowing down. Find out what's powering the people building chicken coops and reclaiming urban spaces 6 - 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 26, at Breaking Through Concrete: Building an Urban Farm Revival. Author Edwin Marty speaks at the Central Branch of the Public Library (14 West 10th Street) in an event sponsored by Cultivate Kansas City and Chipotle Mexican Grill. Marty offers practical advice on maintaining an urban farm within the current political and environmental landscape. The talk is free. Reserve a seat at kclibrary.org.

The modern-day version of turning water into wine happens for the sixth consecutive year as Excelsior Springs, best known for the Hall of Waters, hosts the Missouri Wine Festival, noon - 9 p.m. Saturday, July 21. More than a dozen wineries have vintages to try on the back lawn of the historic Elms Hotel & Spa (401 Regent Street). Tickets cost $20 in advance, $25 at the gate.

If you're still not sold on Kansas wine, maybe Missouri wineries are more your pour. The Midwest Wine & Brew Fest is set for 2 - 6 p.m. Saturday, August 11, at the Country Club Hotel & Spa on the Lake of the Ozarks. More than a dozen wineries - Wenwood Farm Winery and Peaceful Bend Winery, among them - offer samples alongside food from area restaurants. Tickets cost $15 in advance, $20 at the door.

The annual Kansas City Ethnic Enrichment Festival is one of the few places where you can down a turkey leg and a plate of Swedish meatballs. Enjoy dishes from dozens of countries and watch a range of cultural entertainment at the three-day festival, August 17 - 19, in Swope Park (6 - 10 p.m. Friday, noon - 10 p.m. Saturday, and noon - 6 p.m. Sunday). Admission costs $3; children 12 and under are free.

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