Before World of Beer sent me to Kansas City, MO on assignment to get to know Boulevard beer better, I had never really been to the midwest (apart from a short weekend working trip to Chicago, which doesn't really count.) It remained a mystery to me, and I was excited to see if everything I'd heard was true - are the people that nice? The barbecue that good? The local pride that real?
Yes, yes, and yes.
While my main task for the hot (like hot as hell) June weekend was to cover and enjoy the three-day long Boulevardia festival put on by Boulevard Brewing, I took every chance I got to explore KC and get to know the city and its people better.
My first stop was the Boulevard brewery for an official welcome, tour of the facility, and to meet brewmaster & local celebrity Jeremy Danner. After all that, I got to enjoy Boulevard's lovely on-site tasting room. I was given a "hall pass" for the day, entitling me to endless draft pours of Boulevard's beers ranging from classic mainstays like Unfiltered Wheat and Ginger Lemon Radler, to special one-off tastes of experimental brews like a Black Walnut Ale and Milk Stout.
As if the wonderful people and incredible beers at Boulevard weren't enough to make me love it, the taproom allows pups! This place was heaven on earth.
After my tour of Boulevard but before my day at Boulevardia, I decided to take a little break from beer and get a little booze-less culture in at The National WWI Museum, the only one in the United States! I'd feel like a fraud to call myself a history buff, because I'm not that smart or dedicated, but I do love history and enjoy a good museum, especially on a hot day.
Visitors enter via a glass walkway over a replica poppy field, where each of the 9,000 artificial red poppies represents the death of 1,000 combatants. The museum was absolutely incredible - not an inch of space went unused in the large exhibitions - text and artifacts filled every room to a point that was nearly overwhelming. It was hard to take it all in, but could easily occupy an interested party for a full day and is absolutely worth the trip and the ticket price.
At the center of the open plaza connecting the museum's buildings is the Liberty Memorial, a 265-ft granite and limestone tower completed in 1926, the top of which visitors can ascend to in a small, rickety 1930s elevator for a great view of Kansas City below.
And then, the main event! Boulevardia. A festival that takes over Kansas City's historic West Bottoms neighborhood to celebrate everything the brewery values: beer, food, music, and community. And a ferris wheel! The excessive heat didn't stop people from turning out in force to enjoy tasty brews, live music, local food trucks, and cornhole with friends and strangers alike.
The highlight for me? The Taps & Tastes event within the fest, in which over 40 breweries were on hand pouring tastes for attendees. Check it out below!
Festival-goers were as happy and friendly as you'd expect for a bunch of Midwesterners enjoying local beer and tons of fun, which is to say, very.
And yet, as amazing as Boulevardia was, it wasn't even my favorite thing about my trip to Kansas City. I loved the people that I met, the welcoming local vibe, and the impressive array of things to do, see, and eat packed into such a charming and authentic package. Kansas City, I'll be back!