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FanFest makes fans all-stars

Multi-day event lets visitors play like the pros and immerse themselves in all things baseball.

The 2012 All-Star Game logo is displayed on the scoreboard at Kauffman Stadium along with a permanent installation on the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame building beyond the left field wall.

To welcome visitors to the city for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, seven local roadways sport street decals like this one at J.C. Nichols Parkway and 47th Street.

POWER & LIGHT FREE EVENTS

Starting Thursday, the Power & Light District’s free events are open to all ages throughout All-Star weekend.

Thursday

Kyle Park performs at 7 p.m.No one under 21 admitted after 9 p.m.

Friday

California alt-rock band Young the Giant, known for its single “Cough Syrup,” performs at 8 p.m. Open to ages 21 and up.

Saturday

Concert by David Nail, a Missouri native who received a Grammy nomination for best male country vocal performance for his song “Turning Home.” Showtime is 8 p.m. Open to ages 21 and up.

Monday

Check out the 2012 Home Run Derby on two high-definition video screens at 7 p.m. at KC Live. Under 21 must be accompanied by an adult.

Little Big Town, a country music group known for its four-part vocal harmonies, performs at 9 p.m. The show is open to ages 21 and up.

Tuesday

Catch the main event at 7 p.m. at KC Live. All ages welcome, under 21 must be accompanied by an adult.

Run, run, run

The All-Star Game’s charity 5K and fun run is Sunday downtown. The 5K starts at 7:30 a.m., and the fun run starts at 8 a.m. Cost is $35 for adults and children; the fun run is $30 for adults, $25 for children. For registration and route information, go to AllStar5K-mlb.com.

All-star exhibits

  • The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art , 4525 Oak St., is opening its doors Tuesday for a free day of activities in honor of the All-Star Game returning to Kansas City.

The museum’s special exhibition, “Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs, 1851-1939” will be free to all visitors. There will be lawn games for children in the Kansas City Sculpture Park and a self-guided scavenger hunt for sports-related art inside the museum.

The Rozzelle Court Restaurant inside the museum will be open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and beverages and desserts will be served from 2 to 4 p.m.

  • The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial , 100 W. 26th St., is also stepping up to the plate with its special exhibition, “World War I All-Stars: Sports and the Inter-Allied Games.” The exhibit highlights the pro baseball players who became soldiers in the Great War and tells the story of the Inter-Allied Games of 1919.

To coincide with FanFest’s Military Appreciation Day on Friday, families of active-duty military and retired career military (20+ years of service) receive $2 off regular admission. Active-duty military personnel receive the standard half-off admission price. The first 750 visitors on Friday will get a free museum tote bag.

The museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.

  • The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum , 1616 E. 18th St., will host several special exhibits until Labor Day. The first is “Baseball: America’s Game,” which has several original radio recordings of important baseball game broadcasts, ranging from the ’40s until the modern day. Included are radio clips of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974 and Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, where the Royals beat the St. Louis Cardinals.

The second exhibit is “They Were All-Stars,” which highlights Negro Leagues players who were integrated into the major leagues and went on to play for All-Star teams. Among those featured are Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Minnie Miñoso and Ernie Banks.

Finally, there will be several displays of baseball artwork by pop artist Charles Fazzino and 110 baseballs painted by Monty Sheldon. The exhibit will be free; donations are accepted.

The museum is open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

  • The Kansas City Museum will have two bus tours on Saturday that will take riders to several important spots in Kansas City’s baseball history. Fans will visit the site of Municipal Stadium and the grave of legendary pitcher Satchel Paige. The tours are at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. and will run for an hour to an hour and a half. The buses leave from Union Station, 30 W. Pershing Road. To reserve a spot, register online at kansascitymuseum.org or call 816-483-8300.

Ticket information (read carefully)

Individual adult tickets are $30. Tickets for children under 12, college students, military and seniors over 65 are $25. Children under 2 get in free. Family packs for two adults and two and five children are available starting at $90. Tickets are available at Kauffman Stadium or the Kansas City Convention Center. They can also be purchased online at allstargame.com or royals.com and by calling 1-888-FanFest. Other ticket specials may be available through the website.

In an effort to control crowd flow, tickets have a designated entry time. Fans choose the time they want their ticket to become active and are then allowed to enter any time after that until the festival closes. Earlier times will sell out sooner.

Fan Jam, watch parties

Grand Slam Fan Jam: This free event at Barney Allis Plaza will feature local food, music, arts and crafts. Starting at 6 p.m. Friday and at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

All-Star Game watch parties: Free at 6 p.m. Tuesday — Historic 18th and Vine Jazz District, Jay McShann Pavilion, 17th Terrace and Vine Street; Crown Center, 2450 Grand Blvd.; Guadalupe Center, 1015 Avenida Cesar E. Chavez; Kansas City Zoo, 6800 Zoo Drive; and Zona Rosa, Town Square, 8640 N. Dixson Ave.

The Kansas City Star

The main event may be on Tuesday, but the days leading up to the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star Game are guaranteed to hit a home run with fans.

MLB is hosting several events to get Kansas City stoked for the game, but the biggest is the All-Star FanFest, which kicks off Friday and runs through Tuesday.

“I guess the best way to describe it is if MLB and Walt Disney had a marriage, their lovechild would be FanFest,” says Ron Watermon, director of public relations for the St. Louis Cardinals. St. Louis set an attendance record for FanFest when the All-Star Game was there in 2009.

FanFest will be at the Kansas City Convention Center, 301 W. 13th St., from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. Friday through Monday and until 6 p.m. Tuesday. A list of all exhibits and demonstrations can be found at AllStarGame.com. Here are some highlights:

The Diamond

Fans can grab a bit of the All-Star glory for themselves on the 10,500-square- foot FanFest Diamond, where clinics will be hosted by former players and baseball insiders. Instructors include former Royals pitcher and Fox Sports Kansas City analyst Jeff Montgomery on Friday and former MLB player, coach and manger Cookie Rojas on Tuesday. Clinics will cover basic baseball skills and will last for a half-hour.

Mascot Home Run Derby

Fans will get to see their favorite team mascots try to knock one out of the park at 11:30 a.m. Friday through Monday. Monday morning is the championship, where the No. 1 slugger will be crowned.

“It’s definitely a crowd favorite,” says Jackie Secaira-Cotto, director of special events for Major League Baseball.

Negro League Legends

Celebrate Kansas City’s deep connection to baseball history when former Negro Leaguers share their stories from the past. Guests include last living league umpire Bob Motley as well as Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Famer Minnie Miñoso.

National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum

History buffs will enjoy seeing 83 artifacts usually enshrined at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., throughout the festival. Pieces in this traveling exhibit include a ball signed by Negro Leagues legend Satchel Paige, a jersey worn by Babe Ruth and the cap worn by Bret Saberhagen during his 1991 no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox.

“Unless you can make that trip to Cooperstown, you’ll never get to see this stuff,” Secaira-Cotto says.

Fielding and batting cages

Fans can practice how the pros hit in state-of-the-art batting cages and test their skills against ground balls, fly balls and line drives at the fielding cages.

Steal a Base, Steal a Taco

Inch away, sprint and slide in to score a free Taco Bell taco. Fans have the chance to put their sneaking skills to the test stealing bases from digital simulations of current MLB pitchers. The pitcher may be on a screen, but the bases are real. Don’t forget to warm up.

Trophies of Major League Baseball

See the lights glinting off 16 official Major League awards and trophies that will be on display, including the 1985 Royals World Series trophy, State Farm Home Run Derby trophy and All-Star MVP award.

Women in Baseball

Meet the women who inspired the movie “A League of Their Own.” Players from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League will sign autographs throughout the event, and there will be merchandise for sale.

Tire Tryout

Practice throwing and bunting skills by aiming at upright tire targets. No one to beat here except your personal best.

World’s Largest Baseball

What would a larger-than-life game be without a larger-than-life ball? The world’s largest baseball has been traveling with the All-Star Game since 1992. It measures 12.5 feet in diameter and weighs almost 1,300 pounds. By the time it reaches Kansas City, the ball will have traveled 48,159 miles. It features signatures from greats such as Hank Aaron, Derek Jeter, Ozzie Smith and Ted Williams.

Auctions and appraisal fair

Fans who want to own their slice of baseball history can bid on any of the 700 pieces in a collection provided by Hunt Auctions. There will be daily silent auctions throughout FanFest for items under $1,000 and a live auction on the last day of the festival.

Highlights from the collection include a 1928 Lou Gehrig World Series home run baseball and a bat used by Ty Cobb with an autographed letter from Cobb himself, both valued between $100,000 and $200,000.

There will also be an appraisal fair running throughout FanFest, where fans can bring in their own items and have them priced by experts. At last year’s festival in Anaheim, Calif., a 1903 Cy Young bat was brought in and found to be worth more than $100,000.

Special days

Each day of the FanFest has been assigned a special theme to correspond with a special offer on that day.

Friday: Military Appreciation Day — Fans can honor the men and women of the military by sending thank you notes and videos to troops overseas. The first 1,000 eligible fans will receive a special military patch.

Saturday: Kids Day — The little ones will enjoy face painters, making their own baseball cards, balloon animals and a magic show. Families can view the giant World Series Trophy or take a photo with their favorite MLB mascot. First 1,000 fans between the ages of 4 and 18 will receive a special Sluggerrr figurine.

Sunday: Kansas City Tribute Day — KC takes center stage. There will be live music by local musicians, including electro-pop band Antennas Up at 11:30 a.m. and the Good Foot at 7 p.m. First 1,000 eligible fans receive a FanFest commemorative coin.

Monday: Legacy Day — Former Negro Leaguers will be doing Q-and-A’s all day, and artifacts from the league will be on display with the Hall of Fame Museum exhibits. First 1,000 eligible fans get a special Legacy Day tumbler.

Tuesday: All-Star Legends Day — To celebrate Kansas City’s third All-Star Game, past All-Stars will make an appearance, including those from 1960 and 1973, the last two games that Kansas City hosted. The first 1,000 eligible fans will get a bobblehead of Royals Hall of Famer George Brett.

“It’s all things great about baseball,” Watermon says. “It’s sort of a playground on the one hand and just an extravaganza on the other.”

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