Hey, it's finally a Fall Final Friday! I write these blogs about what's going on during Final Friday weekend in Lawrence every month, and each time, I wonder if this will be the month that Lawrence reigns it in a little. Nope. There is, characteristically, a LOT going on in Lawrence, Kansas, from September 29-October 1. I suppose I'm not actually surprised - I was more surprised when the temps were in the 100s earlier this summer, and Lawrence was still business (read: partying) as usual. So no, I'm not technically surprised that we've got a full weekend of super fun activities ahead of us when it's absolutely beautiful outside. Every season in this city has something great to offer, but I personally am partial to fall. I love the weather, the events, the changing colors in the trees, the increasingly crisp air, the way my dog seems to bounce happily when we go for walks, and I love donning my borderline-spooky outfits the second it hits 70 degrees. Some folks may see fall as a looming sign of the wintry decay to come, but a pretty sizable portion of the population seems to come alive this time of year. So, let's see what's happening.


Friday: Art, Music, & Keanu Reeves

Crescent Moon Winery Tasting Room Final Friday

I'm looking forward to the Final Fridays lineup this month for a couple of reasons. First, there is a wide variety of really cool shows going on. Second, we've got several new locations participating this month, which is always exciting - it means that Final Fridays is growing! Last, one of the shows features a photo taken by yours truly. More on that in a second.

Final Fridays Cider Gallery

Let's start with the variety. No matter your interest, you'll find it here. Want to sip cocktails, listen to jazz, and see the work of someone who's won international awards for his art? Head to Cider Gallery. Want to do a little jewelry shopping? Check out the Adornment show at Art Love Collective. Want to see some cool photographs of artifacts found in or near the Kaw River? Visit the Edward Jones office on New Hampshire Street. Want to hear live music while sipping a glass of local wine? Crescent Moon Winery's Tasting Room on Mass Street is the place for you.

Art Love Collective Final friday

Want to see a lot of different stuff at just one location? Check out the Phoenix Gallery for two artists - relaxing Midwest prairie-inspired paintings hung next to psychedelic shapes and funky colors. Or, check out this month's offerings at the Lawrence Arts Center. They've got an artist who uses clay he harvested himself from Kansas land to make ceramics inspired by indigenous Mexican culture. They've also got a curated collection of 12 different artists who identify as BIPOC that showcases their cultural and racial experiences while living in America. And to top it off, they've got a tribute concert celebrating 100 years of Hank Williams at 7:30 PM.

Final Fridays Phoenix Gallery

If you want an event that is maybe curated for a younger audience, check out the Lawrence Ballet Theater's 6:30 PM performance of Luna's Magic Flute at the Lawrence Public Library.

Jungle House

What's new this month? Step inside the Jungle (House) to get immersed in some beautiful watercolor paintings. Grounded Coffee will be showcasing the unique multi-medium work of a local Lawrencian who uses acrylic, toner, and wood panels to represent the chaotic and the mundane. See a surprisingly elegant art gallery space at Danielsan Electric (surprising because the exterior of the building is rather unassuming). The Senior Resource Center also joins the fun this month with a collaborative show of "Antique Artists," featuring watercolor, pencil drawing, oil and acrylic painting, pen and ink, sculpture, quilting, and other textile arts. Do some fun shopping at the Kaw Valley Glass Studio for their Sew it's Us pop-up featuring hand-sewn and vintage clothing.

Sunflower Outdoor

Last, be sure to stop by the second floor of Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop for their September Final Friday show. This month, they're featuring their Life is Better Outdoors photo contest winners. I shyly entered the contest in the "Midwest Scenic" category with a photo I took with my phone (pictured below) at the Clinton Marina in early June and ended up winning 2nd place in that category, which is pretty cool. I tend to steer away from being perceived usually, but I really liked that photo because I feel like most folks don't typically associate the color purple with Midwest scenery unless you're in the general vicinity of Manhattan. Thanks to the judges for giving me a chance and to everyone who voted for me - I'm truly honored to be included with so many great photographers. The other winning photos are fantastic - go to the show and check 'em out! Congratulations to all the winners.

Clinton Lake Marina

Anyway, here's the full Final Fridays calendar in one place:

September Final Friday Events

Okay, I realize the Keanu Reeves subtitle above may have been a bit misleading because only so many people can fit inside Liberty Hall. And perhaps Keanu Reeves and his bandmates from Dogstar are tired of being known as the Keanu Reeves band. But yes, Keanu Reeves will be in Lawrence this Friday night for his band's show at Liberty Hall. From when I'm writing, it looks like a few tickets are still available - go grab one while you still can! Or, you could safely and politely hover outside the venue hoping to catch a glimpse of a celebrity, which I hear is becoming a regular occurrence for the 600 block of Mass Street these days. I bet Liberty Hall wouldn't say no to a ticket purchase, though. 

Heavy Petty Granada Starlite Stage

If you prefer to catch your weekly dose of classic rock under the night sky, consider capping your evening with Heavy Petty on the Starlite Stage. The Starlite Stage is The Granada's newest entry in their noble pursuit of bringing fun to Lawrence. They set up a stage in the lot directly south of the venue, next to Einstein Bro's bagels. Tickets are $10 at the gate and a bar & N/A drinks are available onsite. I've heard reports that last month's Starlite show was really fun, so definitely check this out. Heavy Petty is a tribute band to Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Maybe Keanu will show up eventually. Probably not, though. Maybe, though. I am realizing I don't actually know much about the guy.


Saturday: Let's go to a festival or three

Rev it Up! Hot Rod Street Fest

Saturday is a full day of festivals, but I'm not saying you have to pick one. The truly committed can probably make it to everything. Here's what we have going on in beautiful Douglas County:

Rev it Up Hot Rod Street Fest

This Saturday, the Rev It Up! Hot Rod Street Festival returns to Downtown Lawrence, Kansas. It’s a totally free car and motorcycle show in South Park, but you don’t have to be a vehicle aficionado to enjoy this party. Live music will be provided by StrawBilly, Robbie & the Rockin' Fools, and Kaw Tikis. There will also be food and beer vendors onsite. This event is a benefit for the Ballard Center - donate directly or help by bringing non-perishable food, shampoo, laundry soap, and other household goods to the festival to fill the Center’s Pantry.

Empty Nester's Winery

History buffs may want to head to Lecompton on Saturday for Lecompton Territorial Day, celebrating Lecompton's history as the Territorial Capitol of Kansas from 1856-1861. The event centers around Constitution Hall, a national landmark and museum operated by the Kansas Historical Society. This is an interesting event worth checking out for the history - Historic Lecompton's tagline is "where slavery began to die." Territorial Day lasts pretty much all day and will feature a parade, family activities, vendors, and more. While you're there, stop by Empty Nester's Winery with the Kaw Valley Craft Pass! Each of their hand-crafted wines is produced on-site and named after significant figures and events from Lecompton's history. It's a really cool spot, and they often do Small Town Saturday Night events with live music and a food truck. 

Great Plains Art & Music Festival

Photo by Brian Byers

Last but not least, the Great Plains Art & Music Festival returns on Saturday! This is their second annual festival, and they hope to keep growing it every year. The festival kicks off with a FREE arts & crafts show featuring over 50 vendors. This part of the festival lasts from 8 AM to 1 PM when it transitions into a full-on music festival that goes until almost midnight. You do need to purchase a wristband to stay for most of the music portion, but you're welcome to stay for free until 4 PM if you come for the free part of the event in the morning. In addition to art & music, there will be food and drink vendors and performers. It's a great opportunity to support local artists and build the festival scene right here in Lawrence. No matter your budget, it's definitely worth checking out. The festival is happening at Sesquicentennial Point by Clinton Lake.


Sunday: Pumpkins, Spice, & Everything Nice

Schaake's Pumpkin Patch

Can you believe this Sunday is the first day of October? I sure can't. To many of us, September is filled with palpable excitement for the fall season ahead, but October is when it really begins. So, here are my recommendations. First things first - coffee. October 1st is National Pumpkin Spice Day, so I highly recommend visiting one of our many amazing local coffee shops and bakeries to see what delicious seasonal drinks they've got on the menu. I'm guessing Taylor's Donuts will put together some really unique seasonal donut creations. If the weather is nice, maybe check out a coffee shop with a patio. A few somewhat hidden gems I've been enjoying lately are Great Blue Heron Outdoors and Uplift Coffee Co. Seriously, just look at how cute these two places are:

Great Blue Heron & Uplift

Suitably caffeinated? Let's go to the pumpkin patch. That's right- Schaake's Pumpkin Patch is opening their doors for the season this weekend. Don your cutest seasonal apparel, grab your friends or kiddos, and head on out for a full morning of autumnal fun. This is such a great place - there is a hay bale maze, photo opportunities, farm animals in full view for the children to ogle at, fields where you can actually pick your own pumpkin from amidst the leaves, and a cute shopping area with adorable home decor, merch, and ornamental pumpkins of all kinds. I love visiting the patch so much that I'm even going to use this as an opportunity to add a photo of my own dog (in 2017) to this blog (see below). Schaake's is only open from September 30 - October 30 each year, so be sure to visit soon.

Schaake's Pumpkin Patch

After you finish up at the pumpkin patch, head back into town and do some more shopping! We have so many great local stores in this town, and there really is something for everyone.

Love Garden Sounds Record Store in Downtown Lawrence Kansas

If you're not into the idea of staying on your feet for one moment longer, head to West Lawrence for one of two awesome spectating experiences: The KU Women's soccer team is playing a home match at Rock Chalk Park on Sunday at 1 PM, and the last showing of the amazing musical play Crowns at Theatre Lawrence is at 2:30 PM. Grab tickets while you can. This is seriously a beautiful & moving show with a very talented cast.

That's all I've got for you this time, folks. Come to Lawrence this Final Friday and stay for the whole weekend - we've got a lot to offer.