If you’ve limited your time at Wichita’s annual party on the river to an annual trip to the Sundown Parade, a trip to the food court, and Gospelfest, this year might be your best year to reach out and engage more than ever before.
Okay, Gospelfest will be extra special this year with the "Queen of Contemporary Gospel Music" Yolanda Adams headlining, but every day the festival has plenty of ways for people – young and old – to engage.
Here are a few of our picks.
Cox Kids’ Corner is back on the Hyatt Lawn with lots to do every day. Kids can check out Make-Do-See, hands on construction projects, science experiments and dance moves. There are also horse rides offered by Hope in the Valley Equine Rescue.
Paddle Boats Enjoy a free ride Mon. – Thurs., from 5 – 8:30 p.m., due to the fireworks, Saturdays schedules are abbreviated and mostly during the day. Sunday 1-10 p.m. This year the paddle boat launch further extends the Riverfest footprint, with the launch site on the West side of the river and north of Douglas along the shore in front of the new River Vista apartments.
Wagonmasters River Tour are available for those who prefer to enjoy the river with a little less exertion. The tours depart from Ackerman’s Backyard, along the river behind Century II.
Daily on-site entertainment includes: the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show featuring log rolling, wood chopping axe-throwing and climbing; the Phlox Kansas fire performers; and the Last Carnival circus troupe from Lawrence, KS amazes us with their feats of strength and agility. All acts are in Ackerman’s Garden. The Last Carnival is 6:30 daily and Phlox is at 9 p.m. The Lumberjack Show time varies daily.
Carnival Rides -- The carnival that’s usually in town during the festival is moved this year due to construction on the new baseball stadium. This year you’ll find the festival at 215 S. Broadway.
PICKS BY THE DAY
Fri., May 31 The regulars return, the Sundown Parade gets underway at 6:30 p.m. and the Opening Night Fireworks will be simulcast on KEYN 103.7.
Sat., June 1 Looking to do some unique shopping? Check out the Strawberry Swing Indie Craft Fair showcasing high quality handmade goods. www.thestrawberryswing.com for more details.
Hot Air Balloons If you’re in awe of hot air balloons like we are, Fri., May 31, thru Sun., June 2, you can catch then on the lawn area south of the old library with a launch at 6:30 p.m. and the 8:30 p.m. glow. There is also a big launch on Sat. morning, June 1 at 7 a.m.
Sun., June 2 Young Lions Ninja Warrior Obstacle Course from noon to 4 p.m. It’s a one mile and ten obstacles course for youth ages 5-17. Run, jump, crawl, climb and swing through the fund and challenging obstacles. Register a youth for this event at wichitariverfest.com.
Sun., June 2 more fun on the river with Kayak Rides from 5-8:30 p.m. They depart from new River Vista location.
Mon., June 3 Gospelfest 6 – 9:30 p.m., Kennedy Plaza, north side of Century II.
Wed., June 5 Make a splash in a variety of water inflatables on Kennedy Plaza at the Wet n’ Wild Splash Party from 5-7:30 p.m., The Highland Dairy Ice Cream Social will be along Douglas Avenue from 6:30 – 8 p.m. The concert for the evening features Brooklyn-born rapper Talib Kweli, who rose to fame as half of the group BlackStar.
Thurs., June 6 is Throwback Thursday. If you didn’t buy a button this year, find an old one – it’s good for admission today. Cajun Fest if from 5 – 8:30 p.m. with a tasty Cajun meal including dessert available for $10. Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave are the main stage act.
Riverfest Classic Car Show is inside the Bob Brown Expo Hall in Century II on Fri., June 7 from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Sat., June 8 from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. On Saturday, also move over to Century II Exhibition Hall to also check out the Midwest Super Car show, a display of low riders, custom cars and bicycles.
Sat., June 8 the festival closes out with the Capitol Federal Fireworks Finale, simulcast again on 103.7. KEYN.