For me, one of the most exciting things about spring—and all of the Kansas City growing season for that matter—is a weekly (sometimes twice weekly) visit to our farmers’ markets. When you experience firsthand the products our farmers and Midwestern soil work together to produce, it will inspire your every meal, and even the snacks in between. Now farmers’ markets have sprung up all over the city, and not just on Saturdays. In fact, if you know the schedule, you can find a farmers’ market and the best produce of the season somewhere in the city on any day of the week. For a full listing of farmers’ markets, including local festivals and special events in the Kansas City area, visit explorekansascity.com and search with keywords “fresh food.” You can take it a step further and make every market dollar mean more than just a meal by supporting the markets of the Kansas City Food Circle. This grassroots organization deals specifically with local organic farmers and farmers who practice free-range and sustainable techniques that not only keep the money in our area but help maintain the health of our local farming ecosystem. For a directory with a listing of farmers, CSAs, and markets that meet their guidelines, visit kcfoodcircle.org.
If you like craft beer and need something to celebrate, Kansas City is a great place to be. The profusion of local breweries and those who love them can provide a seemingly endless source of entertainment. The festivals really take off this month, one of the first being the Hopfest Craft Beer Festival on May 16. The Well, at 7421 Broadway, will highlight more than 250 beers from more than 50 breweries. The festival also features a home-brew competition, a DJ, food trucks and a tented beer garden. General admission tickets cost $40 and get you unlimited samples from 2 until 6:00 p.m. VIP tickets cost $60 and include early entrance at 1:00 p.m. Go to waldowell.com for more info.
The merriment continues on May 17th with the Tour De Bier KC, an annual bicycle tour of Kansas City breweries and brewing landmarks that ends with a party at Knuckleheads Saloon in the East Bottoms. Participants can choose between 17-, 35- and 65-mile tours. Registration costs $40; proceeds benefit BikeWalkKC. Members of BikeWalkKC get a $10 discount on registration. Go to tourdebierkc.com for more info.
You have two weeks to recover before the Kansas City Microbrews and BBQ Festival on May 30. Sample beers from local microbreweries (if you’ve missed any or need a refresher), and chow down on local barbecue specialties at the Kansas City Museum in Northeast Kansas City. Tickets cost $35 in advance or $40 the day of the event and include beer and food. For more info, go to kcbrewsandbbq.com.
Another two weeks recovery brings us to the Worlds of Fun Barbecue & Brew Festival on June 13, 14, 20 and 21. Tickets to the two-weekend festival cost $25 each (not including admission to the theme park). Festival ticketholders get two 4-ounce tastings of beer at six different locations in the park, plus barbecue samples from Worlds of Fun executive chef Kevin Williams. The beer-tasting stations will be located in Scandinavia, the Orient, Americana and Europa. Go to worldsoffun.com for more info.
If you’re still thirsty and need a little something, Boulevardia returns to the West Bottoms on Father’s Day weekend (June 19-21) with craft beer, live music, food trucks, family activities, crafts and eco-education booths. Tickets to the street festival’s craft-beer tasting event, Taps & Tastes, are sold out, but $15 general admission tickets are still available. For more info, go to boulevardia.com.
KC Hopps has launched their newest endeavor, Relish Catering and Merriment. KC Hopps is best known for the 75th Street Brewery, Blue Moose and the Moose Truck, O’Dowd’s Little Dublin on the Plaza, and recently as a partner in Stroud’s Fried Chicken. Executive chef Ryan Sneed and his staff can provide delicious boxed lunches, buffets or even live cooking stations for any event. relishkc.com
The Tasteful Olive in downtown Overland Park (7945 Santa Fe Dr.) just celebrated its 5th anniversary. If you’ve somehow missed out, stop by to experience their extensive collection of Mediterranean extra-virgin olive oils, as well as olive oils from around the globe, including some vibrant, delicious oils from California—and 100 percent virgin coconut oil. They also specialize in aged and naturally flavored balsamic vinegars from Italy, salts and seasonings. Specialty pastas, including a wide variety of gluten-free pastas in various shapes and flavors, can make this a one-stop shop for a simple and delicious meal. For an out-of-the-ordinary tasting experience, stop by during 3rd Friday Night Local Life events hosted by the neighborhood. The evening begins at 6 p.m. with tastings, chef-made appetizers, live music and wine tastings by Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery in Paola. For more information, call