Best of Shawnee 2015: Community
Old Shawnee Days
Tradition is what keeps Shawnee residents and visitors coming back for Old Shawnee Days, voted the Best Annual Event in this year’s Best of Shawnee.
This year’s festival was the 49th annual event, said Old Shawnee Days chair Tonya Lecuru.
“There’s so much tradition to Old Shawnee Days,” she said. “Families continue to come, and they go to the parade and kick off the summer with the event.”
Old Shawnee Days includes a parade, live music every night, a carnival, baked goods and food, and plenty of entertainment for the whole family. Vendor booths give local businesses a chance to meet new customers.
Old Shawnee Days is always the first full weekend in June. In 2016, it will be June 2-5, and it marks a special milestone for the event.
“It’s the 50th anniversary, so we plan to have several surprises in store for everyone,” Lecuru said.
Runners-up: Shawnee Farmers’ Market, 11501 W. 57th St.; St. Patrick’s Parade, Duck Race & Heroes Pull, downtown Shawnee.
Shawnee Mission Park
7900 Renner Road
The amenities provided by Shawnee Mission Park make it the readers’ choice for Best Event Venue in Shawnee.
If you want your special events to happen outdoors, then Shawnee Mission Park is quite literally the natural choice. The park’s outdoor shelters and nature trails are perfect settings for special events with nature as the backdrop.
There are 11 shelters in the park, each with access to amenities such as grills, restrooms, playgrounds, nature trails and parking. The Theatre in the Park is available for all types of special events, from corporate gatherings to fundraisers.
Randy Knight, community relations manager for Johnson County Park and Recreation District, said there are a steady stream of events in park on the trail system. “Nonprofits who put on walks and other events use the trail system,” he said.
Knight also said that one of the real advantages to the park is its adjacency to the Mill Creek Streamway Park. “We have triathlons here, with the lake and the roads,” he said.
Runners-up: Shawnee Town Hall, 11501 W. 57th St.; Theatre in the Park, 7900 Renner Road.
Best Family Fun:
Shawnee Mission Park
7900 Renner Road
This 1,600-acre park has everything a family would want for day full of fun. If your family loves the water, you can enjoy the offerings at Shawnee Mission Park Lake. There are pedal boats, canoes, paddleboards and kayaks available for rental. Fishing is available at Shawnee Mission Park Lake, too; the park stocks the lake with trout several times a year. Even the family dog has an outlet for off-leash romping on 53 acres at Shawnee Mission Park.
If your family likes a little friendly competition, get out your discs and plan a game of disc golf at the park’s scenic, 18-hole, 54-par disc golf course. The park also has archery, mountain biking and equestrian trails to enjoy.
Make a reservation and get the family together for camping at the park’s campgrounds or for special occasions in one of the parks many shelters, many of which have grills, electricity, nearby playgrounds and plenty of parking.
Runners-up: PowerPlay Family Entertainment Center, 13110 W. 62nd Terrace; Sky Zone, 6496 Quivira Road.
Shawnee Mission Park
7900 Renner Road, 913-888-4713,
Shawnee Mission Park is the largest park in the county and one of the most visited parks in the entire state of Kansas, and it’s the favorite among Best of Shawnee voters as the Best Local Attraction in the city.
Randy Knight, community relations manager for Johnson County Park and Recreation District, said 2.1 million people visited Shawnee Mission Park in 2014.
The park boasts unique amenities that make it a local favorite, including the 53-acre off-leash dog park. “It attracts a large number of people 365 days a year,” he said. “It draws people from all over the metro, and dogs can also access the water.”
JCPRD will have an event in September celebrating Shawnee Mission Park’s 60th anniversary.
Knight said, “When it was first proposed to the voters 60 years ago, the negative campaign against that was ‘Who needs a park way out there?’ But one of the attractions is where it is. It’s so close to so many people now, and it’s a wonderful community amenity.”
Runners-up: TIE, Theatre in the Park, 7900 Renner Road, and Wonderscope Children’s Museum of Kansas City, 5700 King St.; Shawnee Town 1929, 11501 W. 57th St.
12208 Johnson Drive
Kristina Gann-Albright and Nikki Shanahan-Minick have been having a blast at their boutique business, already doubling their space since opening in October last year. Their 24 vendors sell everything from clothes and jewelry to paintings and furniture, and all of them sell different types of products.
The owners attribute their success to their relationships with their customers.
“Because we’re crazy — that’s why,” Gann-Albright laughs. “I think we’re bringing a lot of people in and have a lot of repeat business because we’re both very down to earth, we’re both hot messes, and you can’t come in here without laughing or screaming or finding out how we know you.”
ShananiGanns’ customers have included customers from as far away as Spring Hill and Lawrence, but they’ve been popular with the locals, too.
“I do have a lot of people say ‘I’m so glad you’re close to us; we needed something close by,’” Shanahan-Minick said.
Runners-up: Shawnee Antique Mall, 7410 Nieman Road; YogaFit Studio, 22223 W. 66th St.
15440 W. 65th St.
Sunflower House has children in mind. The winner of the Best Nonprofit, Sunflower House is a child abuse prevention center where children are interviewed after a report of child abuse has been made.
Sunflower House staff members work with the police and child protective service social workers to talk with children in a safe location that focuses on the children and their needs.
Michelle Herman, president and CEO of Sunflower House, said, “There were more than 9,000 cases of child abuse reported last year in Johnson and Wyandotte counties alone. And, sadly, it’s likely that another 9,000 were never even reported. However, Sunflower House is right here in Shawnee to help child victims of abuse heal from the trauma they have received and to help bring their perpetrator to justice.”
Herman said Sunflower House is happy to be recognized as one of the best in Shawnee. “Our staff takes a great deal of pride in the difference that we can make in the life of each and every child that we encounter.”
Runners-up: Wonderscope Children’s Museum of Kansas City, 5700 King St.; Shawnee Community Services, 1110 W. 67th St.