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.
Kansas 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.
The 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.
There are about 20 businesses that open in old warehouses on First Weekends. A few, like Rag and Bone
, are open every weekend. A few art galleries, like Sit On It, are open during the week.
So I left that weekend with nothing more than a Dr. Pepper purchased from one of the food trucks that provide fun treats to busy shoppers. But next time, I’m taking my friend Linda. She has a bigger vehicle than mine and would not have let me hesitate on buying those ducks.
We’ll probably start off at breakfast at Jerry’s Woodsweather Café at 1414 W. 9th Street. Jerry’s is open only for breakfast and lunch, and serves a killer plate of biscuits and gravy.
We might end up with drinks at The Golden Ox
, which always opens a little early during First Weekends. This historic steakhouse has been in the West Bottoms since 1949. Or, we’ll surely spend some time at Amigoni Winery on Genessee Street.
Even if I do leave empty handed on my next First Weekend, it will still be time well spent. With street vendors and musicians and people carrying odd and unusual things around the streets and alleys of this historic district, it’s just a good time to be out and about in KC.
Diana Lambdin Meyer (@mojotraveler) is a freelance writer based in Parkville and author of the travel app “Kansas City Uncovered.” She regularly writes about shopping and off-the-beaten path escapes on her blog www.mojotraveler.com.