The Plaza Art Fair attracts art lovers from across the region. STEPHEN GIBSON |

2018 Plaza Art Fair: What to see, hear and eat at the annual street fest [sponsored]

The Ink Live! Stage at the Plaza Art Fair features bands representing a variety of genres, from rock to jazz. STEPHEN GIBSON |
The Plaza Art Fair encompasses nine city blocks and features live music, food and art from more than 240 artists. STEPHEN GIBSON |
More than 240 artists will attend the 2018 Plaza Art Fair. STEPHEN GIBSON |

Like savoring barbecue, partying at a jazz club and tailgating at Arrowhead Stadium, attending The Plaza Art Fair presented by Saint Luke’s is a quintessential Kansas City experience.

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The 87th edition of the annual event at the Country Club Plaza begins at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, and ends at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23. Throngs of people will come to take in the wares displayed by 240 creative exhibitors. They’ll stay for the unparalleled people watching, delectable food and riveting live music.

The works of artists from around the world include paintings, sculptures, ceramics, photography, jewelry, prints and home furnishings. Participating artists include Argentina native Gaston Carrio, whose 2009 show in New York is documented in the book Art by Architect, and South Carolina-based multimedia artist Geoffrey Aaron Harris, known for digital paintings of robots and fanciful toys.

The close quarters during the fair’s peak hours can make it seem as if half of the region’s population is in attendance. Considerate Midwestern hospitality makes the congestion more manageable, but savvy people escape the crowd by ducking into the Plaza’s many restaurants for a conventional or al fresco dining experience.

About two dozen area restaurants set up booths at the fair. Sampling the Capital Grille’s steak sandwich or Seasons 52’s shrimp and grits is a budget-friendly way to taste the offerings of prestigious kitchens. Other satisfying options include burnt ends from Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue and burgers from Fred P. Ott’s.

In addition to delectable food, most restaurant booths supply adult beverages that allow patrons to transform the three music stages into makeshift nightclubs. Each of the three entertainment areas has a distinctive theme.

The Polsinelli Stage on the Wornall Bridge hosts several of the region’s best party bands. New wave hits of the ‘80s like Devo’s “Whip It” will resound throughout the Plaza during an appearance by The Zeros (8 p.m. Saturday on the Polsinelli Stage). The eclectic line-up at the 90.1 KKFI Community Stage in the heart of The Plaza reflects the orientation of the non-profit radio station. A set by the Kansas City folk duo Shapiro Brothers (3:15 p.m. Saturday on the 90.1 KKFI Community Stage) is particularly appealing.

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An auspicious parade of Kansas City’s most respected creators of original music will cross the Ink Live! Stage near the southwest corner of the event. The Sextet (1 p.m. Sunday at the Ink Live! Stage) and Ryan J. Lee + Allies (11 a.m. Saturday at the Ink Live! Stage) are young jazz ensembles intent on pushing Kansas City’s most famous art form in exciting new directions. The audaciously imaginative rock-oriented Enrique Chi of Making Movies (1 p.m. Saturday at the Ink Live! Stage) and Chase the Horseman (4 p.m. Saturday at the Ink Live! Stage) are among the additional musicians slated to perform.

Party bands are also in the mix at the Ink Live! Stage. The swampy blues-rock ensemble The MGDs (4 p.m. Sunday at the Ink Live! Stage) and the jump-blues practitioners Grand Marquis (9 p.m. Saturday at the Ink Live! Stage) cater to dancers. Dance, along with people-watching, fine dining and music appreciation, is among the most exhilarating forms of art to be relished at the Plaza Art Fair.

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2018 Plaza Art Fair: What to see, hear and eat at the annual street fest [sponsored]