Frank Deford @ Unity Temple on the Plaza THURSDAY
Few sportswriters can claim the kind of career longevity Deford has had. The decorated veteran began working for Sports Illustrated in the 1960s and continues to contribute to the magazine. He’s also an NPR commentator as well as a correspondent on the HBO show “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” He recently completed a memoir that includes a behind-the-scenes view of the NBA’s earliest years. He’ll speak at 7 p.m. Thursday at Unity Temple on the Plaza. Admission packages are $25 and include a copy of the book and two tickets. rainydaybooks.com
It’s “Cocktails, Coattails and Cat tails for a Cause” at the Kansas City Zoo’s annual summer fundraiser. Twelve full and specialty bars will be set up throughout the zoo, and food from more than 60 area restaurants — such as Fogo de Chao and Urban Table — will be available. Live music will be featured on three stages. Individual tickets are $175 (VIP tickets, which provide early admittance, are $375), and various group ticket packages are available at jazzookc.org.
Festa Italiana FRIDAY THROUGH SUNDAY
Eats and beats take precedence in this nod to the Italian heritage. Some of Kansas City’s top Italian eateries will be represented, including Garozzo’s, Mike and Charlie’s and Cascone’s, and there will be plenty of live music throughout the weekend. Friday’s live music offerings include performances by Malena Marcase, Joseph Vincelli and others. On Saturday, the main stage will host a collection of acts, such as a variety show and a meatball eating contest. A Catholic Mass opens Sunday’s schedule of events. The festival runs from 5-11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sunday at Zona Rosa. Go to zonarosa.com for a complete schedule.
Hospital Hill Run SATURDAY
The notorious road race known for its agonizing hill marks its 39th year in Kansas City. Runner’s World magazine tabbed it one of America’s top races, and a number of former Olympians (including Frank Shorter, Billy Mills and Jim Ryun) are among its alumni. There are half-marathon, 10k and 5k options, with all races beginning and ending at Crown Center. Registration is $45-$75. Go to hospitalhillrun.com for more information.