Jazz in the Woods is like having a picnic with 25,000 of your closest friends. Close your eyes and picture this with me for a moment. A huge stage where some great jazz groups are performing. Blankets and lawn chairs scattered throughout the grassy field that leads to friendly chatter with friends and strangers. Kids running around, having fun. Food vendors of all sorts. A completely laid back atmosphere, where you can relax and enjoy one of the best concert festivals in the area. As for the performers, I am always impressed with the lineup. I have never worried about whether or not I will like the performers.  This year, I'm especially excited to see Angela Hagenback and Bobby Watson because they always give killer performances. Here is a quick look at the 2014 event to give you a feel of the sounds you'll be grooving to all night.




If you have never been to Jazz in the Woods, here are my insider tips to make the most of your first festival.

1. Check out the map and the vendors before heading out to Corporate Woods. I have found it is easier to make choices than to walk back and forth to figure out what you want to eat. I'd recommend Jerusalem Café or Jack Stack, both always offer great food choices. Or, you could just try one of everything, it is all good!

2. Come early. Not only will you get a better parking spot, but you'll be able to stake claim to the best lawn seats as well. Don't worry though. There are no bad seats at this event - there are big screens to ensure everyone can see the performers.

3. Bring something to sit on - a blanket or lawn chair. Note, tall lawn chairs are not recommended as they block others’ view. I do see quite a few camping chairs, which are short and do not hinder the view for other guests.

4. Dress comfortably. Wear cooler clothes if it is a warm day, but bring a light jacket after dark. Also, you will need sun protection the earlier part of the evening and bug spray around dusk.

5. Consider upgrading to the VIP Pavilion. I get a table of 8 in the tent every year and invite friends and business associates to come to the festival with me. The VIP Pavilion has some great perks. First, the table/chairs, food and drink are all in one place - set up under a tent with a direct view of the stage. Also, if the artists are available, they will meet and greet with the VIP guests. One of my favorite memories from Jazz in the Woods was two years ago when I got to meet Oleta Adams in the VIP tent. I used to listen to her sing at J Patricks in the old Hyatt hotel on McGee. I mentioned it to her, which created a little reminiscing about the past bars and places in KC that no longer exist. It was a great conversation; she is a lovely lady.

Hope to see you at this year's festival! Start planning your weekend for Jazz in the Woods now. ~Toni

  Antoinette Madeira is an avid jazz listener and has attended Jazz in the Woods 4 or 5 times in the past. She is married to Bill Meynier, a professional jazz piano player. Antoinette is the Brigadier General at Back Office Brigade where she works in back office management/accounting and consults in the quality management field.