Arts & Culture

11 fun things to do in the Wichita area this weekend (Sept. 9-11)

A judge at the KansasKatz Cat Club show in 2015 observes a cat. The cat show returns to the Cessna Activity Center this weekend.
A judge at the KansasKatz Cat Club show in 2015 observes a cat. The cat show returns to the Cessna Activity Center this weekend. The Wichita Eagle

From cats to ballet to art to custom cars, this weekend is jam-packed full of things to do in Wichita.

That’s not even mentioning some of the traditional blowout fundraisers going on this weekend in town – “ZEN: An Alfresco Event,” at Botanica on Friday and Zoobilee on Saturday. Tickets for both events have long since sold out.

The Kansas State Fair also opens this weekend, and if you’re looking for things to do at the fair, be sure to check out my list of highlights by day.

In the meantime, here are some fun things (mostly free) that will get you through this weekend:

FREE: Enjoy art outdoors with Ballet Wichita and Shakespeare in the Park

This weekend provides opportunities to see Ballet Wichita’s “Alice and Wonderland” and the Wichita Shakespeare Company’s “Othello,” both of which are being staged in area parks for free. Bring a lawn chair or a blanket and enjoy some snacks as you watch. On Friday, you can see “Othello” beginning at 7 p.m. at Central Riverside Park. The ballet production, which originally was scheduled for Friday night, will also take place at the park and begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Food trucks will be present for the Sunday afternoon performance.

See a cornucopia of fancy cats, including internationally known

Yes, cat lovers, this is a great weekend to be fan of felines. The KansasKatz Cat Club “Sunflower State Showdown” is at the Cessna Activity Center, 2744 S. George Washington Boulevard, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Admission costs $20 for a family, $7 for adults and $5 for children. Cash and credit accepted. The main attraction this year: Zoompurr. Zoompurr, a shorthair whose pedigree is not entirely known, was adopted from the Kansas Humane Society last year, and since then he has been entered into the cat show circuits. Last year, he placed in the top 25 internationally in the “household pet” category. Zoompurr, whom the show organizers call “Zoompurr-star,” will be at the show this weekend to compete and for his owners to thank the Kansas Humane Society. There will be cats up for adoption on Saturday. Other cats at the show: Maine Coons, Persians, Himalayans, Turkish Vans, Devon Rex, Cornish Rex, Japanese Bobtails, Oriental Shorthairs, Abyssinians, Siberians, Ragdolls, American Shorthairs, and Sphynx.

FREE: Check out the new exhibit at the Ulrich

The fall exhibition at Wichita State University’s Ulrich Museum of Art, 1845 Fairmount, opens Friday with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. “Coded_Couture” features 10 international artist-designers who create works – garments, drawings, sketchbooks, video projections and interactive opportunities – that explore how technology interplays with “the allure and history of haute couture.” On display you will find futuristic and thought-provoking pieces, such as skirts that read tweets and display patterns on screens, and clothes with built-in lie detectors.

Celebrate the Roaring ‘20s at Cowtown

Heads up – there won’t be any bathtub gin here, but a cash bar will be available. Old Cowtown Museum is hosting a 1920s-themed party from 7 p.m. to midnight Friday at its Empire House. You can enjoy some tunes from the era while dancing and munching on hors d'oeuvres from Truffles. Admission is $15 ($7.50 for Cowtown members), and that includes free admission to a full day of Roaring ‘20s events on Saturday. This event is the furthest Cowtown has ever strayed from its traditional 1865 to 1880 time period, so come check it out while it lasts. Admission on Saturday is $7.75 for adults ages 18-61, $6.50 for those 62 and older, $6 for youth ages 12-17 and $5.50 for children ages 4-11.

FREE: Learn about bees and butterflies

Bees and butterflies play a vital role in the environment as pollinators, and this annual event at the Great Plains Nature Center celebrates that fact. The center’s annual Pollinator Party is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the center, on the northwest corner of 29th and Woodlawn. There will be pollinator puppets, hand-painting butterfly crafts, and moth and butterfly headbands will be available. For a small charge, visitors can make their own beeswax candle to take home or eat ice cream sundaes. There will also be local beekeeping experts and hives on display, as well as locally-made honey for tasting. Monarch butterflies will be tagged and released at noon, 1 and 2 p.m.

Gaze at custom cars at the Kansas Aviation Museum

More than 200 custom cars will be parked at the Kansas Aviation Museum underneath the wings of planes such as a B-52, B-47, KC-135 and more from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $9.50 for adults, $8.50 for people 65 and up, $7.50 for ages 4-12. This is the eighth year of the Starliner Custom Car Show at the museum, 3350 South George Washington Boulevard.

FREE: Look at, purchase local artwork at artisan market

Local art, live music and food trucks will be out at the Workroom, 150 N. Cleveland, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday for its 2nd Saturday Artisan Market. The event features lots of locally made items that you can purchase while partaking of cuisine from local food trucks. A Wichita-themed start to your Saturday.

FREE: Commemorate the opening of a new downtown apartment complex

Pinnacle Lofts and Apartments, 429 W. Central, is having its grand opening Saturday, and lots of local food trucks – and an artist pop-up market – will be on scene to help celebrate. Regardless of whether or not you want to live downtown, you can come out from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and enjoy live music from Bad Mother Hubbard. Central Standard Brewing will have beer available. Who’s going to be there: The Flying Stove, District Taqueria, Shop Mondays, Sunflower Espresso, Archival Jewelry, Prairie & Daisy, EH Custom Cards & Gifts, Telestic Design, Nice Bites, Balu Pottery, Altered Eco Artwear, Stamp Yo Face/We Are Wichita, Sparrow Lettering, Hazelwood Art Studio, Kody Ramsey, Wicked Stitch and Yellowbrick Street Team.

Party in glow paint

GlowRage, a nationally touring “glow paint party,” is coming to 54 West Music Hall, on the south end of Towne West Square, at 9 p.m. Saturday. The event is essentially an electro-dance party with a DJ and gallons and gallons of washable glow paint that get tossed on attendees. People are encouraged to wear disposable attire (white T-shirt, etc.). Tickets are available from $18 to $45 at

See ‘Blazing Saddles’ at the Palace West

In memory of Gene Wilder, the Palace West, 535 S. Ridge Cir., is screening “Blazing Saddles” from Friday to Sunday for $3.50 per ticket – cash only. Show times are Friday at 1:15, 3:45, 6:20, 8:30, and 10:45 p.m.; Saturday at 1:15, 3:45, 6:20, 8:30, 10:45 p.m.; Sunday at 1:15, 3:45, 6:20, and 8:30 p.m.

FREE: Crawl through pubs while cleaning the neighborhood

From noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, you can participate in a unique pub crawl in Wichita, the goal of which is to clean up local streets while walking from bar to bar. The crawl starts at the Monarch, where free food will be served. The crawl then walks down Douglas Avenue to River City Brewery, to Hopping Gnome Brewing, and Central Standard Brewing, where the Kind Kravings food truck will be set up.

Matt Riedl: 316-268-6660, @RiedlMatt