The sound of laughter and the smell of kettle corn will be coming from a Kansas City, Missouri, park this summer at an annual event that welcomes all ages.

The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival is in its 27th year of offering free, professional productions in Southmoreland Park, located at 4598 Oak St.

“It’s grown significantly,” Executive Artistic Director Sidonie Garrett said. “It was very basic the first year and was set at the north end of the park.”

The summer festival now is held on the west side of the park, where the lay of the land is shaped as a bowl with a stone wall at the top.

“The sound rolls up the hill, hits the wall and comes back into our audiences’ ears,” Garrett said.

The large grass area in front of the stage is ideal for all the blankets and chairs guests lay out. With nearly 23,000 people in attendance last summer, the program looks to reach 30,000 this season.

The festival will run four weeks this summer instead of three. A live production will be held at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays from June 11 to July 7.

“Our intention is to increase our audience and give people more of a chance to come and be a part of the production,” Garrett said.

This season’s performance will be a romantic comedy called "Shakespeare In Love." The play outlines the meeting of Will Shakespeare and Viola de Lesseps.

The program hopes to attract guests who may not be interested in Shakespeare.

“We find many people do like Shakespeare once they come out and see it performed instead of having to read it,” Garrett said.

The event offers multiple food vendors, including English-inspired cuisine, kettle corn and shaved ice. Wine and beer also are available for sale along with non-alcoholic beverages.

Parking is available at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art for $10.

For more information on the event, visit