At the Fun Farm Tulip Fest, I saw the differences that make Kansas City so great | Opinion

Since arriving back in Kansas City last summer after more than a decade, I’ve been trying to get out and see what makes this city special.

Spoiler alert: it’s the people. The diverse residents of KC have always been the most interesting thing about the city for me. Kansas Citians are cool.

I love First Fridays in the Crossroads. People-watching at Crown Center never disappoints. The River Market is a veritable feast for the eyes as much as the bellies.

Last week, I went to the Fun Farm in Kearney to check out its Tulip Festival. I was pleasantly surprised.

It wasn’t so much the memory-making feel of the place, though I’m sure families go back year after year. And as much as I loved the acres of different tulip varieties, (my favorite is what I call the “giant red”) what held my attention was the diversity of people, languages, dress and skin tones.

It was like a human field of tulips, and I loved it.

As a Black woman having worked and lived in many different small and large cities, I’m used to all types of racial and ethnic environments.

But when I went to wander through flowers on a Friday evening in Kearney, even I was surprised to hear Spanish dialects alongside Middle Eastern languages, along with accented English spoken by couples and families. I saw whiter skin and browner skin. I saw women in hijabs.

Two white girls asked me to take their photo. Black kids waited to ride the merry-go-round. All kinds of kids were on the Jumbo Jumper, a kind of bounce house without the house.

You can roam across the farm’s hundreds of acres. We sauntered through the apple orchards, and were tempted to go on the giant slide but didn’t. I dared my husband to climb a wooden horse and rope a pretend calf. He declined. We watched diverse visitors feed goats, pigs and chickens at the animal barnyard.

OK, you may wonder why this is such a big deal. It was a big deal to me because we all were smiling, having fun on a beautiful spring evening in April.

For just a few hours, we let our differences fall away and enjoyed the simplicity and beauty of nature.

Tulips, apple blossoms and a big windmill delighted us, while race, politics and religion lay undisturbed and calm.

We walked along paths of straw instead of scrolling reactionary posts on social media. It was a perfect evening.

Though not forgotten, wars on the other side of the world were nowhere in sight.

The Fun Farm Tulip Fest is open to the public until April 28 or until the tulips are gone, but that’s not the end. The Fun Farm has three more seasons: KC Berry Fest, U-Pick Apple season and the famous Fall Festival, where all 300 acres are in action.

You’ll have to check the dates, as they are now “to be announced.” I imagine Mother Nature has something to do with that.

But if it’s anything like what I saw, I encourage you to come out for a good, relaxing time. And perhaps make some new friends different from yourselves.