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Kansas Relays events coming back to downtown; host of other events on the way as well
Dandelions are the sure sign of spring in some communities. In Lawrence, it is street parties. During the last several years, closing a city street to host an event has grown in popularity. This year will be no exception. City officials are processing a bunch of requests for upcoming events. Here’s a look:
• For the third straight year, the Kansas Relays plans to use downtown Lawrence as a venue for two of its top events. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17 the intersection of Eighth and New Hampshire streets will become the site of the Relays top-flight shot put competition. About 10 world class shot putters are expected to compete. The intersection and the 100 block of East Eighth Street will be closed from 6 a.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday while city crews build and then dismantle the shot put venue. As in past years, the 100 block of East Eighth Street also will be an entertainment zone, which will have a special permit from City Hall to allow outdoor beer sales. The shot put event gets rave reviews and draws large crowds. But when you write it down, it does sound a bit odd: The combination of shot putters, a city street and a party. Sounds to me like we have the plot for a hit cable television reality show.
• The following day — from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. April 18 — the relays will be in another part of downtown for its annual top-tier women’s long jump competition. That competition, in the 100 block of West Eighth Street, will close that block from 11 a.m. to midnight. Like the shot put event, there will be an entertainment zone surrounding the competition, including outdoor alcohol sales. Eight to 10 athletes are expected to compete. I haven’t heard yet who that group will include, but it could be particularly exciting. As of last week, KU has the NCAA Indoor National Champion long jumper in Andrea Geubelle.
• Watching an athlete run and jump more than 20 feet in the air seems like an artistic event to me — especially if I can do it while having an adult beverage — but if you are looking for a more traditional art event, one is on the way. The Lawrence Art Guild will host its annual Art in the Park art fair in South Park on May 5. The Sunday event will close Massachusetts Street from North Park Street to South Park Street from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on May 5.
• This one isn’t in a city street, but it is a rite of spring for those of us who have grease under our fingernails from time to time. The local chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America on May 3-5 will host its annual swap meet at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. This event is your chance to walk through rows and rows of auto parts and amaze your friends by pointing at items and saying things such as: “Timing belt for a ’49 Ford.” What? You can do that, right? (I certainly can, as long as no one with me knows what a timing belt off a ’49 Ford looks like.)
In case you are keeping track at home, the city is involved with this event just a bit because it is allowing a portion of the former Farmland Industries fertilizer plant to be used as parking for the event. Some readers in the past have asked whether a portion of the Farmland property will be used to permanently expand the adjacent Douglas County Fairgrounds. That was a plan at one point in time. There are maps at City Hall that show a portion of the Farmland property being used for the fairgrounds. But it appears as the project has evolved, that idea has fallen by the wayside. The more recent plans for the property show the spot once set aside for the fairgrounds being used for industrial lots, which is how the bulk of the 400-plus acre property will be used.
This year’s event will be the 50th anniversary for the swap meet.
• If fixed up cars, rather than ones in parts and pieces are more your style, there’s an event for you. On Saturday, Sept. 28, downtown will host the Rev it Up Hot Rod Hullabaloo car show. The Saturday event will close Massachusetts Street from 11th to 13th streets from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
If none of those events is quite your style, don’t worry. There will be plenty more. Lawrence provides almost everyone an opportunity to stand in the middle of a street and partake in something.