Organizers of the Wichita River Festival say they hope the 2012 event, scheduled for June 1-9, will help make up financial ground lost over the past three years.
They’re making a few changes to last year’s approach – itself a huge change from previous years – to try to make that happen.
“This is an important year for us,” said Janet Wright, the president of Wichita Festivals Inc. “We’ve taken some big financial hits in the last three years, like so many businesses, and have not had the revenue coming in we’ve projected. This year, we’re going to be very careful about how we are spending our money.”
The biggest changes last year included moving the festival from its traditional spot in mid-May to early June and physically moving several attractions, including the food court, closer to the Arkansas River. The festival occurred during a string of 100-degree days, and one evening’s events were canceled by a tornado threat.
The festival will remain in early June, though not all events will stay where they were last year, Wright said.
Organizers are planning to bring in two big-name performers, but this year, attendees will have to purchase $15 tickets in advance from Select-A-Seat. In previous years, a $5 button was the only admission requirement.
The concerts will be the opening weekend of the festival on the West Bank Stage and will move inside Century II if the weather is bad. Wright said she and her staff have secured the acts and will name them at a news conference Tuesday, where they’ll also reveal the official artwork for the 2012 festival.
Last year’s most popular event, a zip line that gave festival goers rides across the Arkansas River, will be back — only this year, they’ll have two to cut down on wait times.
The festival will still have opening- and closing-night fireworks, an opening-night parade and all the other events festival-goers have come to expect.
It also will feature the return of the closing-night block party, which Wright says will be staged on Douglas, in A. Price Woodard Park and at the WaterWalk Pavilion.
The button will remain $5, she said.
“We’re optimistic,” Wright said. “It’s important for us to do really well this year, and with the weather, you never know what’s going to happen, but we’re pleased with the direction we’re going. We’re going to have great entertainment value.”