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Kansas City Irish Fest
Crown Center Square
More than 30 bands entertain over Labor Day weekend at the Kansas City Irish Festival, which also features Irish dance, contests, workshops on Irish heritage — speaking Gaelic, playing an instrument, researching genealogy — comedians, a kids' stage, and merchandise and food vendors. Kansas City's largest outdoor Mass takes place Sunday morning. See kcirishfest.com for more information.
Kansas City Renaissance Festival
September 3–October 16
The National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame
630 North 126 Street, in Bonner Springs
The entertainment and activities — for adults, children and even pets — are positively medieval. With seven different themed weekends, as many as 20 entertainment venues, more than 100 artisan booths, jousting, and food and drink fit for the Round Table, the adventures seem endless. See kcrenfest.com for more information.
Missouri State Fair
This year's theme is "It's A Show-Me Thing!" and it shows off the best of traditional fair entertainment, including a barbecue contest, farm toy show, bluegrass festival, pie contest, a carnival and, of course, more. Much more. See mostatefair.com for a full schedule and more information.
Don't Cry for Katie Karel
When asked for a memory of summer, Katie Karel recalls long days of working in cornfields around her hometown of Seward, Nebraska (population 6,000). Every summer in high school, she and her friends made pocket money pollinating, roguing and detasseling corn in the hot sun for a seed company. "It's what there was to do if you wanted to buy that shirt at the store," she says.
Her plans this summer sound a little less backbreaking. Karel is serving up snow-cone concoctions at the new Tropical Sno stand in Martin City, which was just opened by fellow musical-theater actor Seth Golay and his boyfriend, Jason Kralicek, the Unicorn's managing director. She also hopes to do a lot of fishing and hiking and to generally be outside with her new husband, Sean. (They've been married six months.) "He bought me a pink rod that lights up when you reel in," she says. Last summer she caught one fish in the Blue River, which runs behind their house, so it shouldn't be too hard to reach her goal of beating that record.
For other entertainment, Karel looks forward to seeing The Who's Tommy at the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre and the movie Thor at the drive-in. She's also a big fan of the ACBs and the Vi Tran Band and catches them around town as often as she can. But mostly, she'll be hard at work, preparing for the title role in Musical Theater Heritage's Evita in August. Although she's been a standout around town, particularly in the Coterie's Lucky Duck last summer and Musical Theater Heritage's 1776, this is her first professional starring role. Since January, she has been listening in her car to every Evita recording and strengthening her voice with lessons from local musical-theater star Lauren Braton, as well as researching Eva Peron's life and Argentina's history, politics and social structure. She's "learning español," she says, "and pursuing men of high political standing."