Kearney MO – Not just Jesse James

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Kearney, MO – not just Jesse James anymore! The city continues to grow and rapidly increase its attractions to enhance your travel experience. In addition to the Jesse James Birthplace Museum, the city adds a Fun Farm experience and a wedding destination. Eating places and shopping experiences abound in this city and surrounding Clay County, which is about 25 miles from downtown Kansas City, Mo.

Kearney MO - Not just Jesse James but other places to see
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See how this historic city provides such a great addition to your visits to the Kansas City area. You’ll find it’s a great place to spend a few days and maybe to provide a home base for your time in Kansas City. You’ll find attractions for the whole family, some great shopping experiences, and delectable food options! See the sections below for more details and links to places in town to learn even more! With me so far? Here’s a link to jump directly to eating places in Kearney. And, if you planning a visit here and are going south and west after your stop, follow this link for information about Kansas.

Authors Note: I visited here in December 2023 to write about my experiences for their Chamber of Commerce. This post comes from my experiences. I hope my experiences will help you plan a trip here! Here’s a link to one of those adventures. For many years, the town was primarily known as the birthplace and home of Jesse James. However, while visiting, I found “Kearney, MO – Not just Jesse James anymore!”

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Kearney Attractions

Take a look at the attractions in the area. The original “main” focus centers around Jesse James and the James family. More recently, the Fun Farm Pumpkin Patch grew from a family farm on the edge of town. Outside of town, there’s also a place that hosts weddings for people in the general area. The Tobacco Barn Farm draws from the entire Kansas City area. And follow along for more.

Fun Farm Pumpkin Patch – Show Kearney MO – Not just Jesse James!

When a farm family decided to turn their family farm into a place to sell pumpkins directly to you, they grew the business into an entertainment venue. Now, they host events during four seasonal events. Here are the events, followed by images of the farm with its family entertainment options.

Find the dates of the Festivals and events on their website here.

Tulip Festival

Tulip season in this part of Missouri typically happens in April and into May. The Fun Farm opens for the events shown when you “drill down” on the pages for the event. Continue to check the website or sign up for a notification when the dates are posted. The section specific to the Tulip Festival lays out the available entertainment options. Many of the options are the same for the other events. The family wants to give you all the fun you can cram into a day!

KC Berry Fest

Again, times and dates are on announced on their website when they are set. The berry fest, of course, happens during the summer when there is so much going on in and around the town. Check out the website and call if you need more information. Here’s a direct link to their contact information.

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You-Pick Apples

During “apple ripe time” in Missouri, the Fun Farm sponsors events that allow (link to dates) you to pick apples from their orchard. Their website also announces when the apples are “picked out.” Check out the dates and get the whole family out into the orchard. Pick your apples and stay for the fun!

Fall Festival

Here’s the link to the section about the “Grand Finale” of the year for Fun Farm events. The beginning of the Festival came from the family wanting to sell their products directly to you and the part that gave the family farm its name. The Fun Farm Pumpkin Patch.

Images from the farm

The images show how the farm is organized for family entertainment.

The website shows many of the festival entertainment locations on the grounds. Food stands, kiddie trains, barnyard games, hayride, pig races, apple cannons, and many more. Again, fun for the entire family. Bring the kids. If you don’t have kids, enjoy the other experiences and watch the families enjoy themselves!

Here’s the link to the Fun Farm home page.

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Jesse James “places!”

Kearney remains the hometown of Jesse James. His sometimes mythical status became a reason for celebrating this folk “anti-hero” reputation. A recreational fair on the third weekend in September remembers his life and times.

Jesse James’ birthplace and home (and museum)

His birthplace lies a few miles outside of town. The house is still there. When I visited, the house couldn’t be entered by visitors. That may change, so check it out. The museum stands about a city block away from the original home. The museum includes a small theater to tell the story. Interestingly, there are 51 movies about his life and times. Several had “big names” starring in them. For example, the following actors played him in movies: Robert Duval, Kris Kristofferson, Rob Lowe, and Brad Pitt.

The rest of the museum features pictures and artifacts collected from him and his gang members. The exhibits include weapons from the period. The pictures include various parts of the story. And engage the museum staff in conversation. They are happy to help you learn more about this former confederate, turned soldier, turned folk hero, turned anti-hero. After all, he and his gang robbed banks and trains and killed people.

Jesse James Burial locations

Although he was initially buried at the farm, the family later buried him in the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Kearney. During the early years at the farm, his mother continuously guarded the grave as she feared grave robbers would steal his remains. She had rocks to throw, gathered them, and sold them as visitors’ tokens. Over the years, the rumor held that the remains were not Jesse. Finally, in 1995, his body was exhumed and his DNA tested, comparing it with other family members. There is a 99.7% probability the remains are Jesse James’s.

Jesse James “Bark!”

This is another indication of how Jesse James and his legend are celebrated. Jesse James Park has playground equipment and playing fields for soccer and softball outside of town. Included is a recent addition, the Jesse James Bark, a dog run available for community members and visitors. it’s a great place for your furry family members to get their entertainment.

The community holds the Jesse James Festival on the second and third weekends in September.

There are other places around town named after Jesse James. It’s very likely that the Fun Farm has an unrelated event around the same time.

Some of the Jesse James historical locations around the US suggest a “Jesse James road trip.” Here are a few festivals, related events, and parks outside of Kearney.

  • The first robbery of a moving train in Adair County, Iowa, along I-80, west of Des Moines, Iowa, is now the Jesse James Historical Park.
  • The Defeat of Jesse James Days in Northfield, Minnesota. Here’s the link to the events. The robbery led to the end of the James-Younger Gang.
  • Jesse James died here (St. Joseph, MO) in 1882, killed by a member of his own gang, who wanted to collect the $10,000 reward posted by the Governor of Missouri.
  • Here’s a list of several other places Jesse James robbed. This may be the first one in Liberty, MO.
  • Meramec Caverns is reputed to be a hiding place for the James Gang during their active days.
  • Other places mark the locations or hold events. Those are in the surrounding states of Iowa, Kansas, and Arkansas and as far away as Alabama and Louisiana.

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Kearney Historic Museum

In 2006, the Kearney Historic Museum opened due to the tireless efforts of many community members. A former mayor spearheaded the push to complete the museum.

Celebrating the 150 years of Kearney’s history

While the James family is present in their appearance, they are just a part of Kearney’s history. Here are a few images from the museum. Be sure to take some time to visit the museum and learn about the town’s history. Maybe not unsurprisingly, these museums in cities and towns present a history that sometimes amazes the visitor.

Follow this link to learn more about the museum and find out the hours of operation.

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Tobacco Barn Farm events

This converted tobacco barn now houses an event center. They advertise it’s for weddings and wedding receptions. They may be open to hosting other events like an extended family reunion event for families scattered across the US. The KC airport is about 25 miles away, and Kearney is very centrally located for the “Lower 48.” Here are some photos from the Tobacco Barn Farm.

The Tobacco Barn Farm is set up for weddings. Maybe they’ll host other events when weddings aren’t scheduled? Looks like a great venue. Click the link and check it out!

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Mount Gilead Church and School

This historic church and school are now used for events. The church and school hosts weddings, reunions, showers, meetings, picnics, performances, and parties. Here’s the link to the website. It’s been listed as “temporarily closed,” but check out the website for current times and information. It may be an option for your event again soon.

The site includes a school and presents a four-hour program that emulates a school day from the 1800s. The teacher wears period costumes and all the rest! Again, the website lists it as temporarily closed, but keep an eye on it before and during your visit. Here’s a couple of photos:

Another place that’s worth considering for a visit, but it might be booked for a private event. When the weather’s good, just visiting the grounds is worth the short drive. And another example of why – “Kearney, MO – Not just Jesse James anymore!”

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Other family entertainment options in Kearney

While in Kearney, give these a try. Again, it’s the whole family entertainment place. Here are a few places close by Kearney that you may want to visit.

  • Fishing River Trail – Good for hiking, biking, and jogging. It’s a four-mile trail near the town of Kearney.
  • Watkins Mill State Park – a few miles beyond Jesse James farm. The park features Williams Creek Lake and the recreation opportunities it provides.
  • Jesse James Bank Museum – This one’s in nearby Liberty. It’s the first daylight bank robbery by the James Gang. Check the site for hours of operation.

Lions Park Splash Pad

The Lions Park is in the downtown area. The family entertainment includes a “Splash Pad” with water springing around a section of equipment. The kids will love it! Take this link to the city’s website for more info. Here’s a picture.

Pickleball Courts

This complex opened very recently. It’s the largest pickleball court facility in the Kansas City area. Click or tap the link for more info. In addition to the pickleball courts, the facility includes a new skate park configuration, state of the art LED lighting, ADA restrooms, and a 75 car parking area.

Other towns in the KC area reach out to learn more about it, as they want to keep up with Kearney! Again, a great place to base your time in the area. Give it your best shot!

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Kearney Amphitheater because it’s Kearney, MO – Not just Jesse James anymore

Are you getting tired of hearing “Kearney MO – Not just Jesse James anymore!” The amphitheater recently opened. Here’s the link to the ABOUT page. It’s another example of how Kearney is going all out to attract visitors to the area. The Chamber of Commerce is active in some of these building projects, especially on the promotion side of it. I attended a meeting while there to see members recognized for their efforts in building the community!

See below for a few pictures of the amphitheater and its surrounding area. It’s an open-air performance art center built in Jesse James Park. Here’s the link to the upcoming schedule for the year. It’s a great place for a summer concert or for fireworks on Independence Day! Here’s a few photos, or click on the link above to see more.

Check it out. And check out the place when you are in Kearney. I hope you can schedule your visit to coincide with an event. Over time, they’ll add more events. After all, the Pickleball complex is drawing “envy” so why not the amphitheater!

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Nearby Attractions

Here are a few nearby places you may want to visit while in the area. Of course, the Kansas City area has much more across the metropolitan area.

  • Fishing River Trail – It runs for 4 miles, partly along the Fish Creek stream.
  • Watkins Mill State Park is a few miles beyond the Jesse James home east of Kearney.
  • MariMack Golf Club – It’s a privately owned public golf course near Kearney.
  • Jesse James Bank Museum – Located in nearby Liberty, MO, this is the first US daylight peacetime bank robbery site by the James Gang. (Not the US classic rock band.) – Remember to return to Kearney after your visit!
  • Hall of Waters – This one’s about a dozen miles east of Kearney. The museum dates back to the 1930s and the Federal Public Works Administration (PWA). Back in the 1930s, the PWA developed this as a health resort, bringing in ten mineral springs to create the longest mineral bar in the world!

There are many others as you venture out. But we want you to stay close! And return to Kearney!

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Shopping in Kearney – Kearney MO – Not just Jesse James

Here are some great places to shop in Kearney. Try them all for a day of shopping, or pick one. Here’s a companion post (link here), presenting a few details and pictures of each place.

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Kearney also features some great eating places

Here’s the upcoming link to Kearney’s eating places. Below the list of eating places below, you’ll see a photo from four of them. There’s more detail in the companion post. Here’s a link to the eating places in Kearney. See below for links to each place.

Here are the images from four of the places to eat.

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Kearney Street Art

Here are a few quick views of street art in downtown Kearney. Once again, Kearney works at making the town welcome to visitors and includes street art for your viewing pleasure while visiting. When you walk the downtown area, you’ll see these murals and more.

Downtown photos of buildings and more.

A few views of the downtown area. Just wonder around to see more views.

Summary – Kearney MO – Not just Jesse James anymore!

Kearney MO lies on the northeast corner of the Kansas City metropolitan area. It’s recently growth is partly due to it’s location and mostly due to the efforts by the city planners and location businesses to attract people like you to visit here! With the creation of the Fun Farm Pumpkin Patch to become a full-fledged entertainment venue, and to the increasing number of eating places such as the permanently mounted food truck named Fox and Fire. There are also relatively new shopping venues, such as Urban Edge and Three Birdies Boutique, and the relocation and expansion of Bea’s Flowers and Gifts.

The businesses and people of Kearney welcome you!

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Classic Rock Recollection

“Ride the Wind” by The James Gang

I wanna be like Jonathan Seagull
Try to fly high on his wing
Ain’t no need to be fearful
Lift up your voices
It’s time you should sing

Written by: Roy Kenner and Tommy Bolin
(The group is named after the James Brothers gang and features Joe Walsh, who went on to Eagles fame!)

#thedrivebytourist #visitkearneymo #bekearney #shrpa