The weather is cooling down. The leaves on trees are turning vibrant shades of orange, yellow, and red. It’s fall in Kansas City. Before you break out the warm blankets and start cuddling by the fire, know that there are a myriad of reasons to keep the heat up on your social life in October. Best of all, they are all free! In March 2014, I did my first Free Kansas City challenge. A month’s worth of activities and events that didn’t cost a penny. Free is my favorite word. After all, I don’t think being rich should be a requirement for living a good life. Wouldn’t you agree? So keeping with the theme of all things free, here are 31 days of Free Fall.
- The Maple Leaf Festival proudly welcomes 80,000+ visitors to Carthage, MO. Numerous entertaining events are scheduled throughout the month including a parade, an art & crafts festival, beauty pageants, car shows, a 5K/10K, and live entertainment.
- Gladfest, in Gladstone, MO, is a wonderful fall festival with something for everyone! Don’t miss these four days of excitement including the parade, carnival, and the crowning of Little Mr. & Miss Gladstone!
- The 2015 Shawnee Oktoberfest, hosted by the Shawnee German-American Club, is at the Shawnee Civic Centre from 5:30-10:00 pm. This fun and festive event will feature authentic German food and beverages, a variety of activities, along with live music.
- Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery is hosting their 17th annual Día de Los Muertos exhibition! Artists and community members are invited to create Day of the Dead inspired artwork for installation at the Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery. Opening Reception: October 2, 6-10 pm. Day of the Dead Street Festival: October 3, 1-10 pm.
- Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art Exhibition curator Barbara O’Brien moderates a discussion with artists Jarmo Mäkilä, Rauha Mäkilä, Vesa-Pekka Rannikko, and Anna Touri. Enjoy improvisational electronica music by Mnemosyne Quartet, and talk with docent guides in the exhibition, beginning at 5 pm.
- On the First Friday of every month, thousands of residents and visitors fill the sidewalks of the Kansas City Crossroads District. Arts organizations, galleries, studios, and a wide variety of local businesses feature local, regional and national artists as well as live entertainment from 5 to 9 p.m.
- Ciderfest brings you some good old fashioned apple cider fun for the first weekend in October at Louisburg Cider Mill. Each day begins with a pancake breakfast. Activities also include pony rides, cider and doughnut making, and craft booths. Entry to the corn maze and pumpkin patch is free for children under age 4.
- Downtown Lee’s Summit Farmers Market Harvest Fest is from 7 am to 12 pm. Enjoy live music and free pumpkin decorating for the first 100 kids while shopping for fresh produce, baked goods, handmade crafts and more.
- Enjoy the flavors of fall at the City Market Harvest Celebration, from 9 am to 2 pm. Kids will receive vouchers to redeem for free produce at the Farmers’ Market. Enjoy arts & crafts and fall games including a giant wooden “Mr. Pumpkin Head,” corn toss, apple putt-putt.
- The 2015 Greater Kansas City Japan Festival is from 10 am to 7:30 pm at Johnson County Community College. The festival couldn’t take place without volunteers! Over 170 volunteer opportunities help make this amazing festival. Every volunteer also gets a number of benefits. Seize this chance to learn more about the culture of Japan.
- Garden Faire brings a fall festival for gardeners to the Loose Park Garden Center. Programs for the day include talks by gardening and horticultural experts and a gardening book and supply sale.
- The 2nd annual North End Urban Arts Festival is from 5-11 pm at the NOMAR International Market in Wichita, KS. The vibrant, high quality urban arts festival engages and benefits the North End community, local artists, craft makers, musicians, and performers.
- The American Royal Parade will be held at Arrowhead Stadium during the World Series of Barbecue. Kansas City attendees will enjoy the enhanced parade experience and The American Royal Parade will be introduced to an entirely new audience from across the country.
- WaterFire is a unique, multi-sensory experience of music, fire and water designed by award-winning artist Barnaby Evans. Now in its seventh year, the moving art installation features beautiful floating bonfires on Brush Creek from 7-10 pm.
- Enjoy a Boulevard Brewery Company walking tour of the production facility. Along the way, you’ll learn about the history of the company, their brewing process, and their approach to beer. The tour concludes in the Tasting Room where you can sample a variety of Boulevard beers.
- Coterie Theatre artists read from Aaron Reynolds’ Caldecott Medal-winning Creepy Carrots at the KCPL Plaza branch at 2 pm. Jasper Rabbit discovers that the scariest vegetables of all — in his case, carrots — are the ones that follow you home. Young audience members can “jump into the story,” adding their own improvisations.
- At Kaleidoscope, children are invited to be creative, have fun, and feel good about their own special ideas. Children use their imaginations to make art with left-over materials from Hallmark Cards’ manufacturing processes. Kaleidoscope is located at Crown Center.
- In Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few, Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich examines how the economic system that helped make our country strong is now failing us. Seating is limited at this KCPL Plaza branch event starting at 6:30 pm.
- Dark Days, Bright Nights: Contemporary Paintings from Finland gathers together and investigates the inspirations, methods, and practice of Finnish painters. Features include 41 two-dimensional paintings, a sculptural installation, and a projected video installation. The exhibition will be on view at Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art through February 21, 2016.
- The latest installment of the KCPL’s Real/Modern series features a conversation with local fashion experts about topics ranging from Kansas City’s style scene to new industry innovations. The event takes place at the KCPL Central branch at 6:30 pm.
- Join International Walk to School Day, a global movement to get more kids walking and biking to school! Schools around the KC region are participating. Bike Walk KC has provided resources for principals, teachers, parents, and community champions.
- Urbana is a Downtown KC street scene happening from 5-10 pm. A familiar city block has been re-imagined so you can eat and drink under the stars, hear live music, see public art displays and share a uniquely Kansas City experience, all in the heart of the Kansas City Power & Light District neighborhood.
- Kansas City Live spotlights “Amazing Grace” with a Kansas City Jewish Film Festival preview screening at the Jewish Community Center’s White Theatre at 7 pm. You’ll fall in love with Grace Day, a woman who won over her enemies and blazed a path for future women lawyers. RSVP is required.
- In the fall, the Weston Red Barn Farm comes alive to celebrate the harvest. Starting on Labor Day, the farm is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 am to 5 pm. In the spirit of preserving the American dream of farming, the Weston Red Barn Farm offers visitors the opportunity to experience a real working farmstead.
- The Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center and Museum stands in tribute to the legacy of Kansas City’s early African-American pioneers and embodies the artistic, cultural and social history of the African-American experience. Open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm.
- The two day Svensk Hyllningsfest celebrates Swedish pioneers who settled the Smoky Valley in 1868–1869. The festival, in Lindsborg, KS, features art & crafts, special foods, and Swedish folk dancers and musicians.
- Pony Express Pumpkin Fest is a family arts festival held during the second full weekend in October at the Pony Express National Museum in St. Joseph, MO. It celebrates the fall harvest with live entertainment, a children’s costume parade, festival rides, games, storytelling, crafts and food.
- The 8th annual Summit Art Festival is this weekend, in the heart of historic downtown Lee’s Summit. Lee’s Summit is a vibrant town with very active visual & performing art programs presented by Summit Art, the Lee’s Summit Symphony, and The Summit Players. The Historical Society of Lee’s Summit and Museum will be open during the festival.
- You are invited to A Mad Hatter Unbirthday Party! Location: The Kansas City Public Library Plaza branch, 6:30 pm. Celebrate Alice’s 150th birthday at the tea party. Come in an outlandish hat or make your own. Crafts, games, snacks, and other silly fun are suitable for all ages.
- Catfish and the Bottlemen will be in concert at Kansas City Live! in the Power & Light District on October 9th. Featuring Kodaline & Jamie N. Commons the show begins at 8 pm. For ages 18+ only.
- Shawnee Indian Mission’s Fall Festival features living history reenactors, American Indian dancers, frontier cooking, archery, and blacksmiths. Presented at the Shawnee Indian Mission State Historic Site from 10 am to 4 pm.
- Sprint Family Fun Days Fall Festival is from 11 am to 3 pm in the Power & Light District. Kids can enjoy pony rides, fun games, arts & crafts, trick-or-treating, and more. Fees apply for premium activities.
- Fall on the Farm demonstrates rural life of the 1870s. Special activities include sheep shearing, cider pressing, gardening, blacksmithing, wood stove cooking, Victorian children’s games and toy making. Event takes place at Watkins Mill State Park in Lawson, MO from 12-5 pm.
- The Sugar Mound Arts and Crafts Festival displays 400+ booths of all types of hand crafted items with exhibitors coming from as far as California. On the second weekend of October the Mound City, KS population swells with visitors shopping for crafts & art work and the taste temping foods supplied by Linn County food booths.
- The Lansing Fall Festival is held at Angel Falls Trail from 10 am to 4 pm. This event gives local organizations an opportunity to share information about their groups. There will be live entertainment, food vendors, a petting zoo, story time at the falls, pumpkin decorating, and children’s crafts.
- The Kill Devil Club presents Grand Marquis, the swingin’ blues & roots band from Kansas City. Show begins at 9 pm and is 21+ only.
- The Crown Center District, in Kansas City, MO, is home base for exploring the area. Crown Center houses Kaleidoscope and the Hallmark Visitors Center, along with several more destinations. Across the street is Union Station, with its special exhibits and other attractions. And steps from Liberty Memorial is The Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
- The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has art and family activities every Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 pm. For October, discover the museum’s Burnap Collection of English Pottery. Draw and decorate your own designs for a special place setting in this art activity led by museums guides.
- The Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead in Overland Park, KS is designed to depict a turn-of-the-century family farm. The Farmstead has nearly 200 animals and birds of prey, vegetable and flower gardens, a one-room country schoolhouse, an old-time fishing pond, pony rides and more. Admission is free Monday-Thursday.
- Food for Fines encourages KCPL patrons to bring undamaged and unexpired boxed or canned non-perishable food items to any Library location, through October 18, 2015. Each single food item will be applied as a $1 credit toward the reduction of existing overdue fines.
- It’s tour time at the Louisburg Cider Mill. Watch as apples are squeezed into natural cider before your eyes and observe the bottling process in action! Self guided tours are available when apple pressing & donut making occurs, Monday-Friday from 9 am to 3 pm and most Fall weekends. Call first to confirm.
- Join El Grupo Folklorico Atotonilco and Trio Atzlan Live as Hispanic Heritage Month continues to spotlight a new dimension of Olathe, KS history. Performances take place in the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop Heritage Center from 7-9 pm.
- The Children’s Peace Pavilion, in Independence, MO, is a hands-on museum designed for preschool through elementary students. Interactive exhibits encourage children to explore four concepts of peace: Peace for Me; Peace for Us; Peace for Everyone; and Peace for the Planet. Open Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 am to 4 pm.
- Jeff Guinn, New York Times bestselling author, will discuss his new book, Buffalo Trail: A Novel of the American West. After barely escaping nemesis Killer Boots in the Arizona Territory town of Glorious, Cash McLendon needs a safe haven. Enjoy this event at Woodneath Library Center at 7 pm.
- Every Third Thursday, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art hosts a Not-So-Quiet Night at the Museum! This month’s theme is Night Circus. Enjoy live music by La Guerre, MoonDrop Circus, a Charlotte Street Artists’ Walk with Stephanie Roberts, and DJ Miscela from 6-9 pm.
- The Continuing Struggle provides a historical overview of the Latino struggle for civil rights. Watch Prejudice and Pride, an episode of the PBS documentary series, Latino Americans: 500 Years of History, which chronicles the rich and varied history and experiences of Latinos. Event takes place at Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop in Olathe, KS from 6:30-10 pm.
- The Lenexa Chili Challenge brings 200 teams to compete in Old Town Lenexa. Festivities start at 6 pm with live music and fireworks. The contest begins October 17 at 10 am with free samples for the public. Kids 12 and under are invited to join in on the fun with the Kids Cornbread Contest.
- Alldredge Orchards’ Family Fun Night is a hayride party for everyone from 5-7:30 pm! Hayrides, a campfire, and more to be announced! Pick up a bowl of homemade chili, a hot dog and a s’mores kit in the bakery, and have your dinner by the fire. Alldredge Orchards is in Platte City, MO.
- Local Life during Third Fridays are a lively way to explore your favorite Downtown Overland Park businesses and discover new ones. Whether it’s food or drink sampling, live music, cooking demos or giveaways, you can always discover something fun and unique during Local Life from 5-9 pm.
- Afentra’s No Costume Party is back at the KC Live! Block in the Power & Light District! Featuring Coheed and Cambria, MS MR, Jack Garratt and Thank You Scientist. Be 18+ and show up with valid I.D. Party starts at 5 pm.
- HOWLoween is back at the Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center from 6-9 pm! Discovering nature’s creepy creatures is just part of the nighttime fun. Kids will have a howling good time exploring nature stations like Track or Treat, The Bone Yard, and The Bat Cave.
- Kansas City Chiefs mascot KC Wolf is celebrating the release of the new picture book Kansas City Chiefs ABCs and 1-2-3s, illustrated by Kansan Rob Peters. Listen to football stories, play games, and have your picture taken with KC Wolf, at the KCPL Plaza branch at 6:30 pm.
- The Great Pumpkin Run will be held at Johnson Farms Plants and Pumpkins today and tomorrow. There are fun opportunities to volunteer! Tackle the trails and conquer the maze! Have a great time playing an integral role, receive some awesome swag, and be among some like-minded peeps.
- In 1958, the Baldwin City Maple Leaf Festival began as a celebration of the optimum time to view the changing colors of the maple leaves in the area. The two day festival starts off with a parade at 11 am on Saturday. Sunday concludes the festivities with additional events, crafts for sale, and a quilt show.
- The Pioneer Heritage Days Festival is today and tomorrow. Experience the heritage of our ancestors from the 1800’s at the Harry S. Truman Dam Visitors Center, then hop on the bus and visit the picturesque Drake Harbor where you will find 225 modern day craft makers.
- Eleos Coffee House hosts their annual Fall Festival from 2-6 pm in Kansas City, MO. Enjoy games, prizes, apple cider, and live music. BBQ pulled pork dinners are available for $1 each.
- Pumpkins and Mums Fall Festival takes place in historic downtown Excelsior Springs, MO from 10 am to 4 pm. Activities include face painting, pumpkin painting, carnival games, pony rides, scarecrow decorating contest, and a petting zoo.
- The City Market is open daily and features an eclectic mix of dining, shopping, entertainment and attractions in a unique open-air setting. Visitors are offered a variety of fresh produce, meat, specialty groceries, flowers and gift items from nearby farms and around the world.
- Dogtober Fest is the perfect event for dogs and their humans, at the Kemper Outdoor Education Center from 10 am to 4 pm. Highlights include a Halloween Costume Contest, Obedience Obstacle Courses, and a Dog/Owner Look-Alike Contest. In lieu of an admission, dog food donations will be accepted.
- Introducing Monster Doors, a fun way to spook your guests before they even set foot in your house! These crafty Halloween doors are made using a mixture of colored cards, paper plates, tissue paper, and anything else you can find around your home to make a monster out of your door!
- The City of Fountains Foundation is committed to the restoration and preservation of the historic fountains and sculptures in Kansas City Take a self-guided walking/driving tour of these fountains in the Country Club Plaza and Downtown Kansas City areas.
- The Johnson County Museum, in Shawnee, KS, features award-winning long-term and changing exhibitions as well as public and school education programs. The Museum is a great place to spend the day learning about our county’s history and having fun in our hands-on exhibit spaces. Open Monday-Saturday from 10 am to 4:30 pm.
- Immigrant Tales brings together a panel of Kansas Citians — all naturalized citizens. Discussion topics include their experiences, reflections on why they settled in Kansas City, and views on the current immigration experience. The event takes place at the KCPL Central branch at 6:30 pm.
- Experience a self-guided Haunted Museum Tour at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Pick up a thematic tour brochure from the museum or use your smartphone in the galleries to access the mobile guide.
- The Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden, in Kansas City, MO, is a serene and tranquil garden enclosed by beautiful limestone walls. The garden showcases five designs beginning with a beautiful entrance allee of Peking Tree Lilacs shading billowing blue Endless Summer Hydrangeas and other seasonal flowers. Open from 8 am to dusk.
- Jumpstart’s Read for the Record is a global campaign that highlights the importance of building children’s vocabulary and love for reading early in life. Today, children and adults worldwide will take action by participating in the world’s largest shared reading experience.
- Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park transforms into the “Enchanted Forest”, in Lenexa, KS from 6:30-8:30 pm. Enjoy a pumpkin painting station, magicians, singers, a photo booth, the Enchanted Hayride, and more!
- Rising Up: Spoken Word will be at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art from 6-7 pm.
Come for a dramatic evening of art-inspired poetry as award-winning poets Jose Faus, Natasha Ria El-Scari and Sheri Hall are led by Glenn North to give voice to Rising Up. RSVP is required.
- Friday Fright Nite is designed to provide a safe trick or treat option, with festivities for children 12 and under. At the Gladstone Amphitheatre in Oak Grove Park from 6-8 pm.
- Stone Lion Puppets’ Boneyard Jamboree is a fun-tastic, Halloween spooktacular. Pumpkin Man drops in on this cabaret show along with the invisible couple, spooky skeletons, Martians, ghosts, and trick marionettes. The event takes place at the KCPL Plaza branch at 6:30 pm.
- Pumpkin Palooza is hosted by Friends of Sunflower House in Shawnee, KS, from 9 am to 1 pm. The event features trunk-or-treating, Rockin’ Rob, the best bake sale in Kansas, and pumpkins for sale that have been painted by Greater Kansas City’s premier artisans. All proceeds benefit Sunflower House, a children’s advocacy and abuse prevention center.
- Commemorate the Battle of Island Mound, the first Civil War battle where African-American soldiers engaged in combat at the Battle of Island Mound State Historical Site in Butler, MO. Planned events include a living history walking loop, musical performances by Hank Roberts, and Civil War era demonstrators from 10 am to 4 pm.
- Have a “Kid Safe Halloween”! Trick or treat door to door throughout Shoal Creek village from 11 am to 2 pm. Wear your favorite costume and bring a bag for some sweet treats. Elementary school aged children only.
- Get ready for some BOO-TASTIC FUN at Crown Center for Halloween! Enjoy StoneLion Puppet Theatre shows today at noon and 2 pm. Have your photo taken with the Wicked Queen from noon to 4 pm, today and tomorrow.
- Pumpkins on Parade is at Cave Springs Park from 4:30-9 pm! Feel fall in the air as you stroll along trails aglow with hundreds of lighted pumpkins and enjoy lots of fun filled activities for kids. Food vendors will be on site.
- The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K is a celebration of survivor ship; an occasion to express hope and determination to make this breast cancer’s last century. Sign up to volunteer and play an essential role in the fight against all cancers, including breast cancer. The Making Strides 5K takes place at Crown Center.
- The Monster Dash 5K Run winds through the spooky City Market at 7 pm. Participants have a chance to win age group awards and costume awards. Help make the race/walk a success by volunteering. There will be plenty of treats for everyone!
- Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall will host a Día de los Muertos celebration from 1 pm to 4 pm. Discover the history and cultural traditions of Día de los Muertos. Enjoy music, arts & crafts, and storytelling. This program is presented in partnership with Mattie Rhodes Center.
- John Danforth, former three-term U.S. senator and ordained Episcopal priest, will discuss his new book, The Relevance of Religion: How Faithful People Can Change Politics. Enjoy this event at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, KS at 6:30 pm.
- The Roasterie: Air Roasted Coffee offers complimentary tours 7 days a week. Learn all about their cupping, roasting and blending processes. You might even get to start up one of the roasters yourself, or try your hand at cupping coffee.
- The Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Tour experience begins with an introductory video. Then it’s on to the factory floor where you’ll witness a wide range of operations from welding, laser-cutting and frame-bending, to polishing and assembly. The Harley-Davidson Vehicle and Powertrain Operations, in Kansas City, schedules tours Monday-Friday from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm.
- Kansas City Young Audiences hosts their annual Halloween Family Fun Night from 6:30-8 pm. Festivities include special performances, tricks, treats, and the Artful Pumpkin Auction! Proceeds benefit the Community School of the Arts Scholarship Fund.
- Kansas City jazz legend Angela Hagenbach leads an ensemble cast in an original retelling of the Lewis Carroll classic. Alice explores Wonderland while accompanied by the music of John Coltrane (with original lyrics written by Hagenbach). The event takes place at the KCPL Plaza branch at 6:30 pm.
- Come to the KCPL Waldo branch for Halloween Story Time at 6:30 pm. Children will listen to stories and do fun art crafts. Feel free to have your children come dressed in their Halloween costumes.
- Lanesfield Historic Site, in Edgerton, KS, teaches visitors about the typical school day, the curriculum, and the role most schoolhouses played in the larger community. Open Fridays and Saturdays from 1-5 pm,
- Lyric Opera’s Scary Fairy Tales is at the KCPL Plaza branch at 6:30 pm. Kansas City actor Robert Brand and wife Linda Brand, the Lyric Opera’s director of education and community engagement, talk the night before Halloween about the original—and creepy—versions of the Frog Prince, Rumplestiltskin, Cinderella, and other favorite fairy tales.
- Spend the day at the Mildale Farm Festival in Edgerton, KS. You’ll find a petting zoo, crafts, guided nature walks, and a large pumpkin patch. Tractor-drawn hayrides will take visitors to a fire circle where they can roast marshmallows, drink hot cocoa, and enjoy storytelling.
- Boos, Barks, & Badges Halloween Parade invites dogs and their families to join in the costume parade from Lee’s Summit City Hall Plaza to Howard Station Park. Parade line up starts at 9:30 am. Awards will be given out for the best costumes. After the parade, children are welcome to trick-or-treat at participating Downtown Lee’s Summit businesses.
- The Running Dead 5K is the most zombie-rific event. A group and individual costume contest is at 10:30 am, before the run starts at 11 am, in Bonner Springs. Spectators can hang at Ground Zero to see the start and finish line. Eat, drink, and rock out.
- Bill Payne Halloween in Excelsior Springs, MO provides goodies to trick-or-treaters from 4-6:15 pm. The Halloween costume judging at the Hall of Waters begins at 6:15 p.m. Children, then, march in a parade following the Excelsior Springs fire truck to the Clay-Ray Veterans Hall.
- Kansas City’s BIGGEST Halloween Party, Carnival of Chaos, is at Kansas City Live! at 8 pm with a different carnival spectacle and party in 10 bars! Featuring DJ Mike Scott, and over $15,000 in cash & prizes! Plus, costume contests on the KC Live! stage. Must be 21+ to attend.