Third Shot’s a Charm…

If you had asked me a year ago what pickleball was, I would have said something to do with throwing pickles. Fast forward to today, and I’ve got a whole new level of pickleball appreciation, thanks to a local guy named Mickey Collins who happened upon my office one day!

Merriam just finished up a 3-day inaugural pickleball festival called “Third Shot’s a Charm” which came to pass mainly because the Facebook Pickleball Forum mentioned how cool it would be to host an event once the forum gained 10,000 followers. Well, if you know anything about pickleball, you know it spreads like wildfire and it took very little time to hit that 10K mark. After it did, Mickey began talks with a California pickleballer named Aspen Kern who also helped coordinate efforts for the festival. Due to our affordable and convenient (and super friendly) midwestern location, Merriam was the clear choice for hosting  TSAC, and with only three months to plan (which is like four minutes to a CVB), we went to work.

What I didn’t  expect was the immediate outpouring of volunteer support and comments that quickly began circulating about how excited people were to meet in person after only connecting through the online forum for months. News traveled fast about the inaugural meet-up, and soon we began receiving requests for visitor guides. Franklin Sports reached out to see how they could help and things began to come together. Although I don’t personally play pickleball (yet), I was allowed into the forum and could see the buzz surrounding this event. I knew then, this group of people will be fun to host in Merriam.

Where in the Pickleball Are You From?

I was right! From the gate, people began filing in early on Friday morning, ready to play.  We setup a little welcome booth with our local Povitica dessert bread (which I claimed to be a “carb” boost before taking the court), we asked people to pin their pickleball home state on our map and we answered questions about where to dine, shop and explore. All day long, people came and went, but the courts were NEVER empty. I heard from event organizers that the lights had to be turned out for people to realize it was time to put the paddles (and themselves) to rest for the night.

The evening opening reception was a blast too…there was dancing and wine tasting and socializing, Kansas City BBQ, local entertainment, prizes and more—everyone just seemed to be thrilled to be together. I was in awe of how connected these people were, some having met in person for the first time just hours ago across a net.

Welcome to Merriam!

After three days of pickleballin’ in Merriam, Kansas, it was time to pack up and say goodbye. Rob Noonan from Sioux Falls, SD, best summarized the event in a video he made walking back to the courts, and his sentiment was echoed by everyone. A week later, the forum is still chatting about how much fun they had, when will we plan another, etc. etc. I can tell you one thing–these pickleballers are welcome in Merriam anytime. I had absolutely the most amazing time meeting and greeting this group!

Franklin Sports came too, all the way from Boston!

While Merriam may not be big enough to accommodate large sporting events or headliner concerts, the Pickleball Forum was Just Right and we are so pleased to have been your host. Come see us again next year!

Fall Foliage in the ‘Burbs

“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.”  –William Cullen Bryant

In less than a week, the official start to fall will be underway. The temps in Kansas, according to Weather Center, will remain in the 80’s, but we Kansans flock to our sweaters and jackets the moment a slight chill is in the air. You might think that Kansas isn’t necessarily the greatest spot to view the beautiful colors of fall. Well, while we may not have the foliage followers of the Northeastern states, we can certainly hold our own in beauty, color and fantastic weather when the leaves do begin to turn.

Here in suburban Merriam, just 10 minutes from downtown Kansas City, it can be challenging to find large swaths of foliage to gaze upon, but we are definitely full of pockets of autumn Pantones across the city. Take a peek at our favorite spots to view the changing leaves this season!

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Antioch Park, Merriam Kansas

  • Turkey Creek Streamway Trail — running along the west side of I-35 from Waterfall Park to the 75th Street access point, this 4-mile paved trail is full of trees, shrubbery, wildlife and a trickling stream for a beautiful nature walk this fall.
  • Antioch Park — the most popular park in Merriam, Antioch Park offers picturesque views of some of the most vibrant and beautiful trees in our city.
  • Merriam Historic Plaza — check out the pretty line of maples along the sidewalk of Merriam Historic Plaza at Shawnee Mission Parkway and I-35. While you’re there, take in a mini history lesson about our great city on the outdoor walking path.

Nature’s beauty is never more evident than when the trees become ablaze in brilliant shades of oranges, reds and golds. Where’s your favorite spot to view the leaves in Merriam? Snap a pic when the colors are in full bloom, share it socially and tag us @ExploreMerriam–we’d love to see your fall photos.


For the locals:
The leaves are pretty but they eventually fade and drop to the ground. This year, the City of Merriam has arranged for Benjamin Lawn & Landscape to offer a group rate for residential curbside leaf removal in neighborhoods. Click here to learn more!

For the visitors:
Stop by the Merriam Visitors Bureau office at 6304 E. Frontage Road (M-F 8-4:30) to pick up a Merriam Visitors Guide full of attractions, shops and restaurants, or click here to explore our seasonal favorites in and around Merriam!

Eclipse With Merriam!

Have you ever heard the saying, “the future’s so bright we gotta wear shades?” Well, that rings true for Merriam, Kansas and the entire Nation on Monday, August 21, 2017 when the solar eclipse treks across the country–an event not witnessed in 38 years and one that many of us may never see again.

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To welcome the eclipse, Merriam has teamed up with other local CVB’s and Chambers, the Johnson County Park & Recreation District and local food trucks to offer “Total Eclipse in the Parks.” If you have the opportunity, you should try to make the trek to the path of totality and we are aware that our destinations are not in the path of totality. But, there are some folks who simply can’t make the trip to the path, so we’re hosting eclipse viewing parties in Merriam, Shawnee/Lenexa, and Olathe. We’ll be 99.8% dark during the eclipse, so if you’re looking for a lunchtime spot to view this celestial celebration, come on out to Antioch Park, Heritage Park or Shawnee Mission Theater in The Park anytime between 11:30-1:30 on Monday! If you’re one of the first 200 individuals to join us, you’ll score a FREE pair of ISO certified solar viewing glasses.

Until then, check out a few eclipse tips we think you’ll enjoy! Happy eclipsing.

  • Arrive a little early to your view site to secure your prime viewing location. Antioch Park view site will be at Shelter 2. Parking is limited (again, not in the path of totality, just FYI)
  • Bring plenty of water, a lawn chair or blanket, sunscreen and bug spray.
  • Pack a cooler or bring some cash (or credit card) to grab a bite from the Fresh & Tasty Food Truck–they’ll have cold sandwiches, baked potatoes, mac & cheese and cold drinks.
  • Secure your solar viewing device early! Many places are selling non certified glasses now which are not safe to view the eclipse. Look for the proper ISO requirement on the glasses.
  • Bring a camera to document the event, but don’t miss the actual peak by viewing through a camera lens. Take it in and enjoy this historic celestial moment. If you must shoot photos, remember to still protect your eyes.
  • If you can’t even make it outside at all, download the Total Solar Eclipse 2017 app by Exploratorium. This cool app will feature live streaming by educators and NASA scientists. NASA will also live stream on television so everyone can view.
  • Check-out this eclipse map which details the path of totality across Kansas!
  • Here’s a list of fun eclipse events in our region!

Happy eclipsing everyone!

Beat the heat at the Library!

Looking for a place to cool off during the Kansas heat wave? Head over to the Antioch Branch of the Johnson County located at the corner of Shawnee Mission Parkway and Antioch in Merriam. Created by volunteers in 1953, the Antioch library (the first public library in the county), was initially open just five hours a week. Today, the Johnson County Library system serves more than 566,933 residents from thirteen public facilities and a well-developed website.  Antioch Library in Merriam serves an area of about 40,000 people as well as anyone from outside this area visiting Merriam. Membership is not exclusive only to residents–everyone is welcome to apply for a Library card.

The Library offers strong WiFi connections and free public computers with printing capability. If arriving in Kansas for a meeting or interview, study rooms can be reserved at many of our locations. If arriving with children, the Library offers story times for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, and at Antioch specifically, we maintain a creative and educational play area that features early childhood literacy hand-on activities. We host other events and programs year round, each of which is described in our seasonal guide available at the Merriam Visitors Bureau.

After leaving Merriam, our magazines, newspapers and databases will continue to be available. Everything from consumer information to personal finance tools to learning a language, among many other recreational and educational topics, can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection and a current Library card.

The mission of the Johnson County Library is to provide access to ideas, information, experiences and materials that support and enrich people’s lives. The Library is supported by ad valorem taxes, by the Friends of Johnson County Library book sales, and by the philanthropic efforts of the Johnson County Library Foundation. Please visit our website at www.jocolibrary.org to learn more or come see us at Antioch and Shawnee Mission Parkway!

Guest blog by Michelle Holden, Information Specialist – Antioch Library

Merriam’s 2017 Summer Playlist

One quick Google search for “music in Kansas City,” and you’ll discover hundreds of little shows, headliner concerts, special event performances and more across the region. From local musicians performing regularly in the tiniest of watering holes to top acts selling out the largest venues in KC, there is never a shortage of live, good music in the metro, and summer is the perfect time to make a list of all the shows you want to take in.

Here in Merriam, the same applies! There are 92 days of summer and we’ve got a ton of local performances for you to enjoy—25 to be exact. That’s 25 times out of 92 days you can tune in and feel the music! While we don’t have a massive outdoor arena to seat thousands of people, we do have a laid back vibe to our community’s musical offerings, and we invite you to check them out. After all, music is what feelings sound like, no matter the stage. So, get out there, take in a concert and dance. Dance, I said!

Summer Playlist - newsroom

Introducing Merriam’s 2017 Summer Playlist…

JUNE

  • 7th — Tracy Allison & The Drive / Merriam Marketplace, 6-7 pm
  • 11th — Summer Sunday featuring The Collective / Merriam Marketplace / 4:30-7:30 pm
  • 16th — Rockin’ Party in Your Park featuring Harbour / Brown Park, 6:30-8:30 pm
  • 17th — American Legion Band of KC (wind ensemble) / Merriam Marketplace, 10-11 am
  • 21st — Mark Montgomery / Merriam Marketplace, 6-7 pm
  • 28th — Merriam Acoustic Railroad / Merriam Marketplace, 6-7 pm

JULY

  • 1st — Bo Claxton / Merriam Marketplace, 10-11 am
  • 5th — Julie Major Trio / Merriam Marketplace, 6-7 pm
  • 12th — Rhythm Room Trio / Merriam Marketplace, 6-7 pm
  • 15th — David Smart / Merriam Marketplace, 10-11 am
  • 19th — Dan Bliss / Merriam Marketplace, 6-7 pm
  • 21st — Rockin’ Party in Your Park featuring Pastense / Quail Creek Park, 6:30-8:30 pm
  • 26th — Roanoke Road / Merriam Marketplace, 6-7 pm
  • 29th — Yakety Sax / Merriam Marketplace, 10-11 am

AUGUST

  • 2nd — Shawn McNown / Merriam Marketplace, 6-7 pm
  • 9th — Gadjos Chapeaux / Merriam Marketplace, 6-7 pm
  • 12th — The Happy Wanderers / Merriam Marketplace, 10-11 am
  • 12th — Cruise Night featuring the Julie Major Trio / Merriam Marketplace, 6:30-8:30 pm
  • 16th — Saxes Plus / Merriam Marketplace, 6-7 pm
  • 18th — Rockin’ Party in Your Park featuring Valentine & The Ones / Campbell Park, 6-8 pm
  • 19th — Peggy Chilson / Merriam Marketplace, 10-11 am
  • 23rd — Good Sam Club / Merriam Marketplace, 6-7 pm
  • 29th — Prairie Country Band / Merriam Marketplace, 6-7 pm

SEPTEMBER

  • 2nd — Up Past 9 / Merriam Marketplace, 6-7 pm
  • 16th — Exit 13 / Merriam Marketplace, 6-7 pm

>>Looking for more to do than music? Click here to learn all about 33 Things…KC Destinations’ Summer Bucket List and enter to win!

Q&A with Rita // NTTW17

Today’s National Tourism Week featured Face of Travel is Rita Madison! Rita doesn’t work in Merriam, but she recently visited with a bus group from Lee’s Summit on a whirlwind tour of Merriam’s favorite stops. Here’s a little Q&A with Rita from her last visit to our community.

Rita Madison

Rita Madison — Security Bank

Merriam CVB: Tell us about yourself and how you came to work in this industry?

Rita: I have worked as a Senior Club Coordinator for the Bank of Lee’s Summit (now Security Bank of KC) for eleven years.  This is my second career.  I retired from AT&T with 32 years of service. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Human Resources Management.  I get a lot of personal satisfaction and joy in my current job from my daily interaction with the bank’s senior citizen customers.  The Security Bank’s Senior Program, which includes bus trips, provides a real service to our community’s senior citizens.  It gives them an opportunity to socialize, visit attractions and restaurants they might not go to on their own, and gives them something to look forward to.

Merriam CVB: How did you find your way into Merriam?

Rita: I learned about Merriam from the Merriam CVB at the 2016 Missouri Bank Travel Exchange, through printed materials and personal research on the internet.  I worked closely with the Merriam CVB in setting up an itinerary that I thought my senior citizen group would enjoy.

Merriam CVB: How is the CVB helpful to you as a tour operator?

Rita: The most helpful aspect in working with the local CVB is having one contact for all the trip details.  It makes it much easier for tour planners.

Merriam CVB: Being a tour operator is a lot of work. From coordinating trip details, to promoting destinations, to finding a place for 45 people to eat. What advice would you give to someone looking to work in this industry?

Rita: I agree being a tour planner is a lot of work, so having an organization like the local CVB to work with you on trip details is a tremendous help.  It’s critical to be very organized, detail oriented and a “people” person.  It’s also important to show enjoyment on the job and a caring attitude for the senior citizens taking the trips.  One of the primary goals is to make sure trips are enjoyable, giving clientele experiences they might not be able to have on their own.  It’s very rewarding, in more ways than one, when their trip experiences are as perfect as possible for them.

Merriam CVB: What was your favorite tour memory from your recent Merriam visit?

Rita: All activities on the Merriam trip were enjoyable, but the favorite activity for my group was the Strawberry Hill Povitica Bakery.  Seniors always tell me they do not buy a lot of “stuff,” because they already have enough things.  However, there is an exception.  If they can buy items to put in their mouths, they absolutely will.  My group bought several loaves of Povitica bread.  On the return trip to Lee’s Summit, I made up a game trying to figure out the total number of loaves of bread the group bought.  The total was 65.  Then my group suggested we figure out how many pounds of bread we bought.  They learned from the tour that each loaf of bread weighs 2.5 lbs.  Sixty-five loaves of bread equaled 162.5 lbs.  Everyone got a good laugh regarding the total weight, since the bread would have been like adding at least another person on the bus.  I told my group we were lucky there were no weigh stations we had to stop at between Merriam and Lee’s Summit.

>>To see a clip of Rita’s group tour in Merriam, take a peek at this video from Mixture, a local candle and bath & body manufacturer in Merriam–and, one of Merriam’s most “scentsational” tour stops!

>>If you have a group that would like to Tour Merriam (minimums and fees may apply), please take a peek at our robust tour itineraries and contact the CVB to book your tour today at 913.403.8999 or karenc@exploremerriam.com

 >>Learn more about NTTW activities and Merriam’s daily Faces of Travel here!

Merriam’s Faces of Travel // #NTTW17

2017 marks the 34th year of National Travel & Tourism Week, an event celebrated across the Nation dedicated to recognizing those who work to serve others in the tourism and hospitality industry. As tourism supports the livelihoods of more than 15 million Americans, it’s only fitting that we take a moment to thank those who work tirelessly to welcome visitors to our destinations, go the extra “smile,” and make a difference in our communities.

The 2017 national theme, “Faces of Travel,” shines the spotlight on the individuals who make their living by serving others. All across the U.S., destinations will be hosting events and activities in honor of these deserving people, and Merriam is definitely joining the party! But, we couldn’t just feature one person during #NTTW17. Because we are fortunate to have so many supportive partners who help promote our great city, and tourism week provides wonderful exposure to showcase these individuals, we decided to feature someone new each day! Although it was a challenge selecting only six, we’ve created a daily mini-series we think you’ll enjoy as you learn more about “Merriam’s Faces of Travel.”

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Take a peek at the line-up below, meet today’s featured face of travel, then check back daily on our social channels to meet a new Merriam face each day this week!

Merriam’s Faces of Travel, 2017

Monday, May 8 – Marc O’Leary, Strawberry Hill Povitica

Tuesday, May 9 – Jessica Arenholz, Drury Inn

Wednesday, May 10 – Annie Richmond, IKEA

Thursday, May 11 – Rita Madison, Security Bank

Friday, May 12 – Christine Evans Hands & Nancy Hupp, Merriam City Council

>>Stay tuned daily to meet a new Merriam Face of Travel on the social channels below! 

>>Check out this video featuring nationwide Faces of Travel, including Samantha Brown (we love your luggage, girl) from U.S. Travel! 

 >>Engage in the conversation online: #merriamks #NTTW17 #FacesOfTravel #NoPlaceLikeKS