KC Festival of Fountains

Celebrating the City of Fountains Foundation. Group aims to raise awareness about fountain needs.

Photo Courtesy Kansas City Parks & Recreation & Bruce Mathews

Kansas City has rightfully earned the moniker “City of Fountains” with 48 fountains spread across the community. To maintain this title, two groups hope to unite even more support for the fountains with the first KC Festival of Fountains June 9. The festival will take place at the Bloch Fountain, in front of the Union Station, 30 W. Pershing Road, from 11a.m. to 5 p.m.

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, the City of Fountains Foundation has organized this first-ever event, designed to showcase local fountains and encourage contributions for several that need immediate repairs. Preceding the Festival, hundreds of bike riders from all over the metropolitan area will be participating in the annual Ride the Fountains bicycle tour that begins in staggered starts at 8 a.m. and concludes around 11 a.m. Participants can get an up-close-and-personal look at many of Kansas City’s fountains with 10, 24, 46 mile routes. Afterward there will be music and refreshments for the riders. For more information or to register, visit at www.ridethefountains.com.

Plans for the free event include trolleys that leave Union Station every 10 minutes, taking visitors on one hour guided tours to many Kansas City fountains. At 1 p.m. The Marching Cobras will approach the stage over the north terrace of the Liberty Memorial to herald a special ceremony that includes a brief history of the City of Fountains Foundation, introduction of guests, recognition of Festival sponsors and contributors and information about fund-raising efforts by the Foundation for the City’s fountains. More than $2.7 million is needed to conserve eight highly recognizable fountains and this event will kick off the challenge to raise those funds.

The eight fountains that are at the top of the list for needed repairs are: J.C. Nichols Fountains is in Mill Creek Park at the east entrance to the Plaza; Seville Light Fountain on the triangle at Emanuel Cleaver and JC Nichols Parkway; Volker Fountain overlooks Volker Park at Oak and Volker Boulevard; Delbert Haff Fountain at west entrance to Swope Park on Meyer Boulevard; Spirit of Freedom Fountain in the park at Cleveland and Emanuel Cleaver Boulevard; Meyer Circle Seahorse Fountain located on Meyer and Ward Parkway; Westside Fountains which faces north at Summit and Southwest Boulevard; and the Children’s Fountain is on North Oak Trafficway and Highway 9.

City of Fountains Foundation Board of Directors member Anita Gorman says, “We are the city of fountains so we need to keep the fountains running. Our Midwest weather can be hard on fountains, but the strength is that everyone likes them. They are art that is visible to just about everyone.”

Kansas City Parks Director Mark McHenry agrees with Gorman and he is elated that the foundation is venturing out to raise funds to restore the fountains. “It’s a great way to celebrate their 40th anniversary. Obviously they have a strong advocacy for the fountains and while many of their efforts are aimed at the construction of new fountains, the needs obviously weigh on their minds.”

There are 48 working fountains. “It’s simply fortuitous that the foundation wants to bring awareness to the community about the fountains while offering some fun. Really any time you can have such a positive partnership with the city and a private nonprofit, it’s clearly a benefit. These fountains are the first pieces of visual arts people see when they are in our city. By virtue of these fountains, the Parks Department is part of the community’s artistic, livable landscape.”•

Kellie Houx

Kellie Houx is a writer and photographer. A graduate of Park University, she has 20 years of experience as a journalist. As a writer, wife and mom, she values education, arts, family and togetherness.

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