Prime weekend for a good time

A solitary, sedentary weekend often has its appeal, especially for those feeling as if they have more worries than spare dollars.

But it's hard to recall another late September in south-central Kansas that offered more to do than this one will, and more affordably.

Better to defer the chores and lift the spirits by seizing the unique pleasures of this weekend while they last.

Today's GO! section in The Eagle and online at the new website events.kansas.com spell it all out. But among the highlights:

On Saturday morning, thousands of people will gather at Towne East Square to run and walk to fight breast cancer as part of the Komen Wichita Race for the Cure, one of the largest nonprofit fundraisers in the state.

After three years, the free air show and open house will make a big comeback Saturday and Sunday at McConnell Air Force Base, this year in combination with the Wichita Flight Festival and featuring the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the Navy Super Hornets and an Air National Guard demonstration by Lt. Col. John Klatt.

For chili lovers, there is the Wichita Wagonmasters Downtown Chili Cookoff at noon Saturday. Saturday is Museum Day, with free admission at 18 area attractions (print out a ticket at the website www.museumdaywichita.com). The Valley Center Fall Festival also lasts today through Sunday.

In addition, the Wichita Symphony Orchestra hosts the vocal quintet Rockapella for a pops concert at 8 p.m. Saturday at Century II. There is even a "Sound of Music" sing-along at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Orpheum Theatre.

And having kicked off with the Final Friday gallery crawl, highlighting art and music at nearly two dozen sites across the city between 5 and 9 tonight, the weekend will end from 5 to 11 p.m. Sunday with the Wichita Blues Society's Fall Blues Crawl at seven venues in Old Town.

With so many grave concerns about the economy, the viability of so many goings-on might seem in doubt. But the month already has demonstrated the drawing power of appealing events.

More than 10,000 people attended last weekend's Autumn & Art festival, the new juried art show at Bradley Fair; the inaugural success of this welcome addition to Wichita's arts scene has led Wichita Festivals to promise another next September. The 39th Walnut Valley Festival, Winfield's fabled celebration of acoustic music, drew an estimated 11,000 to 15,000 last weekend. And the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson, which ended Sunday, expects the final tally to equal or better last year's 350,000 crowd, with Midway grosses having broken 2009's record $1.2 million.

Such numbers signal that even with so much on their minds, south-central Kansans still can appreciate a good time — and realize that supporting a community event or organization today is the best way to ensure it's around to enjoy tomorrow.