Gamers and esports enthusiasts around the Midwest are invited to congregate, connect and create at the first annual Midwest Fest.
Midwest Fest, organized by the Kansas City Pioneers and LEVELUP Arena, is a gaming and streaming convention featuring multi-title gaming tournaments for amateurs, opportunities to meet with popular creators, workshops and giveaways. The event is set for Friday, June 16 and Saturday, June 17 at Hy-Vee Arena.
“It’s really just a place to hang out with your friends and be a part of this region’s gaming community,” said Sam Kulikov, co-founder and chief marketing officer of the Kansas City Pioneers. “Historically, these types of events happen on the coasts and are very expensive to attend. Our goal is to bring more events, activations and experiences to our region to invigorate this gaming community and grow it.”
Click here to learn more about Midwest Fest and purchase a ticket to attend.
The two-day event also notably features a collaboration between two of Startland News’ Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2023 — KC Pioneers and MADE MOBB — with an exclusive, limited-edition apparel line that drops this week.
Click here to check out the whole lineup of merch, which is available for sale at Midwest Fest.
Midwest Fest attendees will have the opportunity to compete in Rocket League, Apex Legends and Call of Duty tournaments with more than $3,000 in prizes.
Both local and national organizations have shown their support for Midwest Fest. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is set to have a Homerun Derby setup at the event where attendees can experience the game “MLB The Show” and play as Negro Leagues All-Stars, Kulikov explained.
“Those who get the highest scores will win tickets to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and swag,” he noted. “It’s a way for us to give a nod to such an important icon here in Kansas City and it shows how gaming touches everything.”
Other sponsors for Midwest Fest include Buffalo Wild Wings — which will be hosting a Blazin’ Wings Challenge — Red Bull, Price Chopper, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City and the presenting sponsor, Army National Guard.
Midwest Fest kicks off an event series with the Army National Guard. The KC Pioneers and the Army National Guard will organize six Midwest-based events, holding tournaments that will bring communities together and provide a unique platform for aspiring gamers to showcase their talents and explore potential opportunities within the National Guard, including jobs in cybersecurity, information technology, logistics and more.
“It’s also important to remember that the Army National Guard currently has soldiers, living in the comforts of their own homes in Kansas and Missouri, [who] are gamers,” said Sgt. Hugo Flores, a former competitive player, streamer and coach, who has run the esports program for the Army National Guard since 2020. “Our members already share the same passions as gamers and esports enthusiasts, and this partnership is about celebrating and supporting that.”
Partnering with the Army National Guard allows for a greater opportunity to expand access and support the leaders and innovators of tomorrow, said Mark Josey, co-founder and CEO of the KC Pioneers.
“Our organization is all about community, whether geographical or virtual,” Josey said. “Our teams play all over the world, but they know that they always have that tremendous following back in Kansas and Missouri, watching them online, supporting them, and having their backs.
We’re excited to have the opportunity to partner with our states’ Army National Guard divisions, and to create these amazing events for gamers and enthusiasts to come together and enjoy that community aspect in person.”
Midwest Fest is the next iteration of KC Pioneers partnership with LEVELUP Arena, Kulikov added, noting that the partnership brings together the best of the best gaming equipment with the professional players and entire gaming community.
As the KC Pioneers continue to grow their team and presence, they keep three goals in mind, Kulikov said.
“First is that we want to bring pro teams and other organizations to Kansas City to show them what the city has to offer as an esports city,” Kulikov said. “Second is that we use gaming to change our community for the better by making a positive impact through partnerships like with the Boys & Girls Club. … Third is that we expand access and offerings in terms of gaming experiences in the Midwest — which is exactly what we’re doing with Midwest Fest.”