By Kady Weddle
The Kansas City Clay Johnson Foundation is working hard to launch their 1st annual Missouri Wine & Jazz Festival, on Saturday, July 31 on the north lawn of the WW1 Museum and Liberty Memorial downtown.
“While also part of our fundraising efforts, this will be an event for Kansas City,” said Mitchell Sudduth, Director of Events for the Clay Johnson Foundation. “I know that Kansas City hasn’t had a festival like this in many years and we needed to bring this here.”
Doors will open at 2pm with a live music line-up starting at 3pm.
Special performances by blues/rock fusion guitarist Samantha Fish, Jazz Pianist Alex Bugnon, lead singer of The Allstars Jackie Michaels, the blue grass band Steamboat Revival, Jazz Saxman Chris C-Note Nickens, Metheny Celebration (Pat Metheny Tribute Band), and jazz group The James Ward Band.
“I knew I had to get Samantha Fish for this,” said Sudduth. “She’s a hometown favorite. And she’s a favorite artist of mine.”
General admission ranges from $30, including admission to the concerts and vendor grounds – to $150, a VIP experience with extra concert amenities and swag bag. Tickets are available online at missouriwineandjazz.com. as well as at the gate through the day of the event. Special seating sections for handicapped patrons or those with special needs will be available.
The main stage will be near the north end of the festival grounds, facing Union Station and the city scape. Seating areas for patrons will include the grassy area of the north lawn, with segmented sections to provide aisles and walking paths.
The event will also feature over 40 different wines from all over the word available to sample.
“We’ve aligned with Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits of Kansas City and in partnering with them, we’re able to host eight different tables with five to six wines available to taste at each,” said Sudduth.
A multi-generational, family-owned company, Southern Glazer’s has supported local educational, arts, and hunger-relief programs in the community by founding, hosting, and sponsoring a variety of signature charitable events over the past four decades.
The geographically themed tables will include choreographed sampling lists from the most famous wine destinations including Italy, California, South America, and more.
On-site vendors will include artists, crafters, and local food trucks.
“We still have our vendor inquiry open to the public,” said Sudduth. “We just brought on Poporrazi Accessories as well as a live demonstration painter, but we can always use more.” The Foundation will be accepting vendor and sponsorship inquiries through June 23.
All activities and fairgrounds are scheduled outdoors, under tent cover, in a secure fenced area on W. Pershing & Main St. bordered by Memorial Dr. Perimeter established for event ticket holders only.
The Fine Print
Patrons must be 21 or older to attend. The festival is a ‘rain or shine’ event. Lawn chairs and blankets are encouraged however, the Foundation asks that you do not bring tents, canopies, or umbrellas that might obstruct the view of fellow patrons.
No outside food, drink, coolers, or large bags will be prohibited at on festival grounds. The festival is also smoke and pet free. Smoking is not allowed under festival tents and only assistive animals are allowed on the premises.
Portable restroom facilities and washing stations will be made available as well as a staffed First Aid tent. For your safety, a security checkpoint will be placed at the entrance to the festival. No concealed weapons of any kind will be allowed on the festival grounds.
Parking will be available in lots east of the Liberty Memorial, Union Station and Crown Center as well as on-street parking throughout the area. There will also be areas designated for pick-ups and drop-offs through Uber, Z-Trip, Lyft, etc.
Clay Johnson, a now internationally renowned athlete, was born in the greater Kansas City Missouri, area. Beating the countless obstacles that plague at-risk youth in inner city communities, Clay become a Los Angeles Laker and NBA world champion. When he retired from basketball, Clay established The Clay Johnson Foundation, becoming personally active in mentoring and counselling young people in Kansas City and across America.
The driving force behind the Clay Johnson Foundation is Clay’s passion to help at-risk and underprivileged youth succeed the way he did. The Foundation provides personal mentoring, basketball enrichment programs and life changing college scholarships, inspiring them to not just progress but to excel and shine in every aspect of their lives.
“We believe making young people feel loved, heard, and empowered is what matters most, so we dig deep into our own childhoods – remembering what made us feel that way,” said a spokesperson for the Foundation. “Providing empathy, support, and a listening ear as well as advice, we provide young people with the tools they need for success.”
This year’s fundraising initiatives include carrying out the foundation programs and building a facility to house the Clay Johnson Foundation. The facility will contain a state-of-the-art computer room, classrooms for youth programs, and a gym to obtain optimum fitness.