Inside JCPRD: Looking for ideas for activities this weekend? Here’s a few.

Musicians with the Kansas City Symphony have scheduled free outdoor concerts in JCPRD parks on Thursday, April 21, and Sunday, April 25.

By David Markham

Update: The Kansas City Symphony concert scheduled for Thursday, April 22, in Heritage Park, has now been postponed due to cold temperatures.  A new date and time has yet to be determined. 

If you’re looking for something to do in the next few days and this weekend, please consider that there are two separate opportunities to enjoy music in a park setting (subject to favorable weather), as well as a chance to experience the virtual premiere of a new musical production, help dedicate a new park entrance, and explore a beautiful place in southeastern Johnson County.

The first two of six free spring and early summer outdoor chamber music concerts performed by various ensembles of Kansas City Symphony musicians are coming on Thursday, April 22, and Sunday, April 25.

Thursday’s concert will take place beginning at 5:30 p.m.in the grassy area near Shelter #1 in Heritage Park, 16050 Pflumm Road, Olathe, while Sunday’s will take place beginning at 2 p.m. on the Great Lawn Patio behind the clubhouse in Meadowbrook Park, 9101 Nall Ave., Prairie Village. Thursday’s concert could be cancelled due to cold weather, so be sure to check here before heading out.

As part of a series called Soundscapes in the City, artists from the Lyric Opera will also present a free 35-minute concert beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 29, also in Meadowbrook Park. This event promises a beautiful evening featuring hits from opera and musical theater. In case of inclement weather, the concert will be held on Thursday, May 20. Other Kansas City Symphony concerts are planned for: May 6 in the wooded area next to the Inclusive Playground in Shawnee Mission Park, 7900 Renner Road, Shawnee and Lenexa; May 9 and June 10, both at Meadowbrook Park; and May 19, on the Shelter #2 side of the beach parking lot in Kill Creek Park, 11670 Homestead Lane, Olathe.

These concerts are free, and no registration is required. Performances will last 30 to 40 minutes each, will feature quartets and quintets of musicians from the symphony, and are part of a larger series of outdoor concerts being presented by the symphony throughout the Kansas City metro area.

Social distancing and the wearing of masks will be encouraged at all of these concerts. Most of these events will utilize a KC Symphony trailer that acts as a portable stage. Patrons are welcome to bring lawn chairs and blankets.

Scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 23, is the a virtual opening of the Theatre in the Park production called “Songs For a New…Now,” an original show in the form of a musical cabaret featuring brand new songs written by Kansas City regional composers and lyricists. In all, 19 songs were submitted for this program and 13 were selected. The songwriters come from all walks of life; from teachers, to a high school student, to people who love to write music just for fun. “Songs For a New…Now” is Rated PG for a little colorful language. Following Friday’s virtual opening, the show will be available on demand. The cost is $10 per streaming or on demand ticket which can be purchased at https://www.theatreinthepark.org/songs-for-a-newnow.

Planned for Saturday, April 24, is a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the John Barkley Plaza beginning at 10 a.m., in Shawnee Mission Park, 7900 Renner Road Shawnee and Lenexa. The newly-refurbished eastern park entrance and memorial plaza honoring JCPRD’s first superintendent will be dedicated at this event, which will last about 45 minutes and feature comments from JCPRD and local officials.

A Medal of Honor recipient from World War I, Barkley acquired 1,300 acres for development of the first two parks in the Shawnee Mission Park District, now called the Johnson County Park and Recreation District (JCPRD). Barkley, who retired as superintendent of the park district in 1963 and died three years later at age 70, also spearheaded efforts in the early 1950s to ask the Kansas Legislature to create the first and still only special park district in the state.

The overall concept for John Barkley Plaza is a more inviting, more open area, which will serve as an informal meeting place, and let visitors get an initial glimpse of the park. The plaza includes two interpretive panels, including one about Barkley and another describing the history of the park district. The plaza also features a plantscape involving native grasses and forbs with ribbons of native plants that range from low, to medium, to high and go through the plaza area and continue towards Renner Road.

Saturday’s Spring Community Day at Mildale farm is one of two events each year where members of the public can explore the 90-acre rental property in southeast Johnson County.

Also planned from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday is the Mildale Farm Spring Community Day, which will give participants access to the approximately 90-acre rental property in southwest Johnson County which is actually part of Big Bull Creek Park, but is accessible only by reservation and for two public special events each year, including this community day.

No organized activities are planned for this year’s Mildale Farm Spring Community day, but visitors can still explore and picnic on the grounds. No advance registration is required for this event. The public can also bring their own bait and tackle and practice catch-and-release fishing in any or all of seven ponds within the area. While district fishing permits have been waived for this event, Kansas residents ages 16 to 74 and nonresidents 16 and older need to have a Kansas state fishing license, which will not be sold on-site. Mildale Farm is located at 35250 W. 199th St., Edgerton.

Another popular spring event, the TimberRidge Adventure Center Open House, will also take place on Saturday, but requires preregistrations, which have already filled to capacity.