TOPEKA — Rock concerts, horse shows, sporting events and demolition derbies are among the wide variety of entertaining activities offered by Topeka's Kansas Expocentre.
"Went there for monster trucks and had a wonderful time," Danielle Goodwin wrote Jan. 5 on the Expocentre's Facebook page.
"The circus was amazing and I always have fun watching hockey there," Topekan Mimi Murphy commented April 4 on that page.
Meanwhile, work recently began on a $48 million makeover aimed at bringing the sparkle back to the aging facility, with renovation set to be completed in May 2021.
Shawnee County owns the Expocentre, which opened in 1987 in central Topeka after being built at a cost of $19.7 million. The facility is run by Pennsylvania-based Spectra venue management.
The Expocentre's centerpiece is Landon Arena, named after Kansas Gov. Alf Landon, who ran unsuccessfully in 1936 as the Republican candidate for president. Landon died at age 100 in 1987, months after the Expocentre opened.
Over the years, Landon Arena has hosted performers who included Bob Dylan, Cher, Aerosmith, KISS and Garth Brooks. President Donald Trump spoke at a rally there last October.
Landon Arena has also played host to activities that included high school graduations, professional wrestling, demolition derbies, monster trucks, Cirque du Soleil and Disney on Ice.
For sports fans, Landon Arena is home ice for the Topeka Pilots, a junior team in the North American Hockey League. Kansas Kids Wrestling holds its annual championships event there.
The Expocentre's Exhibition Hall each year attracts various trade shows and gun shows, plus events that include Kansas KidsFest, the 501 College Fair and the annual Wing Fling. That hall is also hosting this year's All Star Preps — Best of Kansas event.
Equine and animal-related events take place year-round at the Expocentre's Domer Livestock Arena, which offers rodeos, farm shows, horse shows, dog shows, livestock shows, the Shawnee County Fair and the Mother Earth News Fair.
The Expocentre's Agricultural Hall hosts events that include Topeka's Metaphysical Fair, the Top Con Geek Expo, the Master Gardener's Plant Sale, the Special Olympics Shrimp Peel, Ladies Day Out and the Festival of Trees.
Even the Expocentre parking lot gets into the act. Each year, it plays host to the Evans United Shows Carnival, the Kansas Motor Carriers Association truck driving championships, the E-Waste Recycling Event and the Emergency Services Showcase, featuring displays that include helicopters, ambulances, police cars and fire trucks.
Visitors to the Expocentre from outside Topeka need not go far to find a place to stay. The Capitol Plaza Hotel has been located since 1998 on the Expocentre grounds at 1717 S.W. Topeka Blvd.