Commercial for paper plates with tightrope walkers creates spectacle at 18th and Vine

July 21, 2017

By Ellen Cagle

Acrobats will be flying high Saturday over 18th and Vine, carrying massive plates of barbecue. Really.

The performance, called “Raising the BBQ,” is part of an advertisement for Dixie Ultra paper plates. To test the plates’ durability, five acrobats will walk a 125-foot tightrope, each holding 2 pounds of barbecue from Q39. If the plates hold up, the meat will be served to diners waiting at a picnic table suspended 40 feet above the ground.

The event is open to the public, and free barbecue and snow cones will be served to people watching on the ground. The festivities begin at 11 a.m. The whole thing will also be broadcast live on Facebook.

The acrobats will serve three rounds of food to the diners at the picnic table in the sky. Locals might recognize the first group of diners. Chiefs first-round draft pick Patrick Mahomes will be at the table, and so will City Councilman Jermaine Reed.

Members of the public will also have a chance to sit at the table. Diners will be randomly picked from among people watching on the ground for the second and third rounds of the event.

 “Things will get very messy very quickly if the plates and servers can’t handle the stress,” said Adam Richman, the event’s emcee, in a news release. Richman was the host of the Travel Channel’s “Man V. Food” and is the author of several books. Gina Bullard, a KCTV-5 anchor, will co-host.

Eighteenth Street from Paseo Boulevard to Highland Avenue and Vine Street between 17th Terrace and 19th Street are closed for the event until Sunday. On Friday morning, the streets of the Jazz District were bustling during the event’s setup. The picnic table was being hoisted into the air, and workers on cherry pickers were assembling the event stage.

The acrobats sat on bleachers, preparing for a full day of practicing the stunt.

“I think it’s going to be really awesome,” tightwire walker Abby Suskin said. “We’ll be making people happy, and also hopefully a little bit nervous for us. But we won’t be nervous.”

Suskin said this weekend was her first time in Kansas City. She and the other acrobats were looking forward to getting barbecue of their own — after the performance.

“We’ll stay nice and light for the delivery and then definitely get into it afterwards,” Suskin said.

People strolled the streets Friday watching the setup. Joni Bellinger was visiting the Negro Leagues Museum with out-of-town friends when she saw the giant picnic table.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. I was hoping … they could pick one of us to go up there, but I doubt it,” Bellinger said. “It’s pretty cool that they’re doing this in our town.”

Bellinger said she would “absolutely” come back Saturday for a chance to sit at the table.

The event will be hot — Saturday’s high temperature is expected to top 100 degrees. There will be water and misting stations along 18th and Vine for attendees.