Our River Festival
The Wichita River Festival has been our city's big event since 1970. You buy a button, and that button gets you into concerts, races, the food court, whatever activities are being held that year. Most of the events take place downtown, and along the Arkansas [in Kansas, you say Ar-KANSAS] River. The Big and Little Arkansas converge in Wichita, the spot marked by the Keeper of the Plains sculpture, so it's a big deal in our city. The River Festival changes a lot. I've attended with my family, then with friends or my own little family, since 1984. I hadn't been to RiverFest in a few years, though. It used to take place in May, before school let out, but it moved to June a few years ago. My favorite events either shuffled around or pulled out of the festival entirely. My theatre schedule has kept me from visiting the festival in the past, too.
However, I failed to get cast in the one show I auditioned for, which led to a crisis of confidence and my failure to audition for anything else. Suddenly, the whole summer opened up for me, and I decided to take advantage of it.
I bought RiverFest buttons for the girls and myself for the first time in years. First up, the opening night Sundown Parade!
I promised the girls we would at least see the parade, because the 4th and 5th grade drumline from their school would be in it!
The mascot of the River Festival is Admiral Windwagon Smith, a prominent gentleman of the community announced before the festival begins. Here is the admiral's float.
And WuShock, my alma mater's mascot! Feat the wheat.
I become far too excited when I spy people in Star Wars costumes. The girls preferred the kiddie stuff.
I had managed to grab us spots in front of the Kennedy Plaza Stage, where the Wichita Symphony Orchestra would be performing their annual pops concert. The pops concert and fireworks show, which is always fabulous, used to take place the final Saturday of the festival, but it was one of the things that moved when the festival dates changed. Unfortunately for me, the girls were tired and hot after watching the parade, and gave me a lot of grief over the idea of staying to hear the symphony and watch the fireworks show. I gave up. We didn't come back to the festival until the middle of the week, when we visited the kids' corner and rode the ferris wheel!
There was a zip line over the river! Crazy!
I did not try a jalepeno Twinkie, but I did admire this awesome food truck.
We're on a very tight budget right now, so we didn't partake in many food court offerings at all. But I love the colorful signs and flags...
In the end, the only treat we bought during the entire festival was a gelati from the Rita's Italian Ice stand. Root beer Italian ice with vanilla frozen custard... mmmmm...
We missed all the cool concerts - Joan Jett, Grandmaster Flash, etc. - but we did see Ballet Wichita's latest Ballet in the Park offering, Peter Pan! The girls' dance teacher from school was in it, along with some girls they recognize from dance at the children's theatre. They were harassed by a clown, which made my weekend. I love clowns, but it's trendy to fear them now...
And that was how we spent our River Festival. We may not have done much, but it was more than I've done at RiverFest in a good long while!
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