Wichita is getting set for its annual biggest party of the year. Riverfest 2023 kicks off on June 2 with the opening of the Food Court and runs through June 10, with days packed with activities and music on the stage every night.
Admission to all the fun, including evening musical performances on the big stage, is just the cost of a single $15 button for adults and $5 for children, now on sale at local QuikTrip stores.
The first major event is the annual Sundown Parade, which begins at 6:30 p.m. and makes its way through downtown. The parade is followed by Shaggy, who takes the main stage at Kennedy Plaza. Opening acts for Shaggy, set to begin right after the Sundown Parade, will be hip-hop artist Cash Hollista and DJ Carbon.
Shaggy is best known for his success with songs like “Boombastic” and “It Wasn’t Me” during the dancehall reggae scene of the 1990s. He has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards, winning twice for Best Reggae Album with “Boombastic” in 1996 and “44/876” with Sting in 2019.
The night will close out with opening night fireworks at 9:45 p.m.
Saturday will encourage all celebrants to get moving, with the annual 10K River Run for serious competitors and fun runs for the whole family with the Family Fun Run or the Tot Trot for kids ages 2-7. There’s also a 5K wheelchair race for the disabled.
Other popular events at the festival include the Kids’ Corner daily, the Art Fest on June 3-4 and the Classic Car Show on June 10.
For a day-by-day schedule of events, visit WichitaRiverfest.com/event-schedule.
Le’Andria Johnson Headlines Gospelfest
On Mon., June 5, Le’Andria Johnson, who won the BET gospel singing competition “Sunday Best” in its third season, will headline the festival’s annual Gospelfest. The Blind Boys of Alabama will also perform.
Thursday More Soul Than Zydeco
If you’re one who typically passes on Thursday, historically billed as Zydeco Night, you might want to change up your old pattern. This year, the opening act is a Zydeco group out of Kansas City, but the rest of the evening features rapper XV followed by a band called the Soul Rebels.
XV is a wholesome rapper who has a career spanning nearly 20 years with the credentials to back it. After ascending to critical acclaim and collaborating with some of the best MCs in history including Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Pusha T, and Big Sean, he’s attracted a devout fan base and follows his internal compass without compromise. FYI, he’s from Wichita.
The headliner for the night is the Soul Rebels. They’re from New Orleans, but this eight-man band offers up an interesting twist of soul, light rap and some big horn sounds that a mature R&B audience will enjoy.
Wichita Native D’Aydrian Hardin Featured
TikTok and Youtube sensation and Wichita native D’Aydrian Hardin will be on stage Sunday. From his first TikTok post in March 2020 showing him rapping on stage at a DaBaby concert, Hardin has gone on to attract 7.6 million followers on TikTok, with 207 million likes, and racked up 107 million views on YouTube.
Hardin promotes youth sobriety and is on a mission to support his social media following by performing live this year. Hardin and his filmer released a rap hit titled “Take Off”, which has over 3.7 million streams. Certainly, he’ll perform his song and some of his comedy routines. He’s also bringing along rapper and singer-songwriter Brandon Hunter King, known professionally as YNW BSlime.
Also a local fan favorite, saxophonist Kevin Harrison and the Brand will perform on Sunday.
Other main stage performers for this year’s Riverfest will be:
Saturday, June 3: Indie folk group Wildeerado and singer/songwriter Reid Haughton will open for headliner Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, an Americana band.
Sunday, June 4: Parker Millsap, a singer/songwriter familiar to Wichita audiences, is the headliner. Wichita native D’Aydrian Hardin is an opener, as is Kevin Harrison and the Band.
Tuesday, June 6: Texas Hill opens for the Eli Young Band, a country act.
Wednesday, June 7: It’s back to the ’90s again with Gin Blossoms, known for hits like “Hey Jealousy” and “Follow You Down.” Singer/songwriter Desure will open.
Friday, June 9: It’s Friday-night Fiesta del Rio. Edén Muñoz is the headliner. The bill this year also includes Los De La Sierra, Pepe Y Los Diamantes De Ojinaga, Mariachi America, Los Humildes Hermanos Ayala and DJ Tynno Morales.
Saturday, June 10: The festival closes out with country group Parmalee, known for the hit “Take My Name.” Opening acts include Jenna & Martin and Jared “Pete” Gile, a singer/songwriter from Kansas.