Art, entertainment and food are big draws to Crossroads - KCTV5

Art, entertainment and food are big draws to Crossroads' First Fridays

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Nights are getting warmer and the Crossroads District is preparing for a big turnout at its First Friday event.

The art people see at each First Friday changes every time they come out, but another fairly new activity is The Food Truck Stop.

The Crossroad District has transformed since its days of blight, brick and mortar to become Kansas City's heart of cultural activity due, in part, to First Fridays.

"It was a neighborhood that, at one time, was serviced by the trains. People would get off the trains, reassemble product and get back on the trains," Suzie Aron, president of Crossroads Community Association, said.

For many years the building at 20th Street and Baltimore Avenue sat empty with its windows boarded up, but Sherry Leedy saw it as an opportunity.

"For artists and art galleries, what we are looking for is big open spaces - warehouses were perfect," said Leedy, the owner of Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art.

Leedy remembers being the only art gallery in the area in 1985

"Now there's galleries all over the neighborhood. It has really embraced art as the cultural identity," she said.

Soon developers, stylish lofts, businesses and restaurants started to open their doors.

"The excitement - when you have creative people, other creative people come," Aron said.

First Fridays began as a way for struggling artists to share ideas, then more and more people caught on.

"There was a time when I came outside and knew everybody and now there's 10,000 people," Aron said.

Each month people flock to the area from Broadway Boulevard to Oak Street and Truman Road to West 22nd Street for the art, music and food.

"If you want something at every price, every flavor, you can get it down here," Aron said.

Adding to the ambiance is an empty lot at 21st and Wyandotte street that becomes The Truck Stop, complete with 16 food trucks, a beer garden and a DJ by the name of DJ Flow.

"The DJ rocks the truck stop and people dance on the gravel," said Sharon Ko, The Truck Stop coordinator.

One new food truck that will be out this year is the Moose Truck and the beer will be from Anthony's Restaurant.

It's all part of the First Fridays family fun environment that is helping revitalize the district.

"If you have a family of four and somebody wants Mexican food and another family member wants home-style cooking and another wants barbeque, they can get it all at The Truck Stop," Ko said.

First Fridays isn't just a social opportunity bringing life back to the area, it's also bringing a piece of life to people.

"First Friday makes more people aware of the importance of art and the possibility of art in their own lives," Leedy said.

First Fridays are free - they are held on the first Friday of every month, year round. Parking is street-side so when people come out, they should be prepared to walk.

Go to facebook.com/KCTruckStop for more information.

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