The historic 18th and Vine District on the east side of Kansas City is home to some of the finest cultural establishments this city has to offer. Sports fans, music lovers and foodies all have reason to love 18th and Vine. With museums, venues, restaurants and some of the best barbecue in the world’s best barbecue city, it’s no wonder this area is so popular.
You can find a good time at 18th and Vine any day of the week. But one of the best ways to experience the heart of the city is through 18th and Vine Kansas City events. From annual traditions to food festivals to some of the best jazz gigs in town, you can be a part of KC’s creative culture at 18th and Vine events.
This guide to the 18th and Vine Jazz District events will fill you in on what’s going on, plus the restaurants you should be eating at while you’re in the area.
18th and Vine Kansas City Events
This area is home to a handful of historic institutions, like the Mutual Musicians Foundation and the Negro League Baseball Museum. Kansas City is a central setting to both jazz and African American sports history, something that is now greatly appreciated but, at the time, was stubbornly undervalued due to gross prejudices.
The context makes it even more awe-inspiring that the African American community in Kansas City created such a beautiful culture. This district and the 18th and Vine events going on each year are a testament to the fortitude and creativity of this community.
Here are some of the most popular 18th and Vine events:
- Thursday Jam Sessions at the KC Juke House: Are you a poet or musician? Do you enjoy poets or musicians? If the answer is yes to either of those, you should check out this weekly jam session at one of the great jazz joints in the 18th and Vine district. This jam session is open-mic from 7 p.m. to close, and there are food and drink specials to accompany the music.
- Jazz & Jackie: We all know about Jackie Robinson’s courageous journey to become the first black player in Major League Baseball history. You may not know that before going to the MLB, Robinson played for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues. In honor of Robinson’s legacy, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum holds this annual 18th and Vine event each spring. Check the NLBM’s event calendar for more details as the event comes closer.
- Heart of America Hot Dog Festival: Peanuts, cracker jacks and hot dogs — the classic American ballpark foods. In conjunction with Hy-Vee, Pepsi and Farmland, the Negro Leagues Museum started Heart of America Hot Dog Festival in 2013 and has kept it running every year since. Along with hot dogs, there is live entertainment and games. Since this festival entered the 18th and Vine events scene, more than 10,000 people have come out to celebrate.
- Buck O’Neil Golf Classic: This is not one of the 18th and Vine events in the district, but it does support the area. The Buck O’Neil Golf Classic, in honor of Kansas City Monarchs’ star Buck O’Neil, is played each year to raise funds to the Negro Leagues Museum.
Where to Eat During 18th and Vine Events
While you’re enjoying the Jazz & Jackie celebration or a late-night jazz session, you’re going to be close to some of Kansas City’s best restaurants. For the whole scoop on 18th and Vine restaurants, check out our complete guide to good eats in the district. For now, these are the joints you can’t miss:
- Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque: Get in line at Kansas City’s most historic purveyor of smoked meats. This barbecue restaurant has attracted past presidents, local sports stars and other celebrities, but it’s still the same old-school barbecue joint with counter service and a no-frills dining room that Kansas City has loved for decades.
- KC Juke House: Make sure to check out the food at KC Juke House when you go for a Thursday night jam sessions. There are special deals just for the session, but the grub is good any time of day. You can find a good selection of salads, pastas, sandwiches and entrees on the menu.
- The Blue Room: Take in live music with a good drink at this historic Kansas City jazz institution. There’s live music every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Indigo Hour (Friday from 5:00–7:30) is great time to go for a first visit; there’s live music, drink specials and no cover charge.
There you have it — your guide to 18th and Vine Kansas City events and restaurants. This district sits at the emotional heart of Kansas City, and everyone should experience all of the great things it has to offer.