The City of Wichita, Kansas was founded in 1870. To celebrate the city’s 100th birthday, in 1970 city leaders hosted a Centennial Celebration, which lasted the entire year. The celebration was a display of all the things that made Wichita the city that we’ve come to love. The Celebration culminated in a final event – the Wichita Water Festival, which celebrated the importance of the Arkansas River to the City. This Centennial Celebration was so popular that city leaders decided to host a celebration each May, and deemed it “The Wichita Riverfestival.” The first Riverfestival was held during a week in May in 1972, and was as much a success as the Centennial Celebration in 1970. Each year, the festival was more successful, so it was expanded to a ten-day event in 1974, and this tradition has continued to this day. The River Festival attracts around 300,000 people each year, from the City of Wichita, and all of Kansas.
The River Festival is funded both by admission button sales, and by donations from corporations. Some of the past and present sponsors of the River Festival are Cessna, Boeing, Spirit Aerosystems, Bombardier Learjet, Cox Communications, ClearChannel Radio, AT&T, Toyota, QuikTrip, Wal-Mart, as well as many others.
This year, the River Festival promises to be better than ever, with fun for the entire family. Already in full swing, the Festival offers such concert headliners as Daughtery, The Guess Who, and Steppenwolf. If music isn’t your thing, there are plenty of art exhibits, food vendors, and even a softball tournament. There’s also a River Run, paddle-boat races, and River Rides. Purina also sponsors an Incredible Dog challenge. And don’t forget about the kids! The River Festival offers performances of “The Wizard of Oz,” by the Wichita Children’s Theatre, and a special Kids’ Korner that offers games, prizes, puppet shows, story-telling, rides and inflatables, and much more!
This year, the opening day of the Festival was deemed Disaster Relief Day, and AT&T volunteers were on hand to accept donations for the Red Cross. The donations will help the victims of the tornado that devastated the town of Greensburg, Kansas on May 4, 2007. All donations made at the River Festival will go directly to the survivors of the deadly tornado.
The River Festival runs from May 11 – 19 this year, so don’t miss out on the fun – head down to the festival today. Admission is only $5, and gets you in to all the activities for the entire nine days.