The annual Women’s Fair at Century II can be a bit overwhelming.
Around every corner is another display of blinged-out purses, another chiropractor, another vendor with free dip samples. Visitors can get lost in a maze of cooking demonstrations, kitchen gadgets, jewelry cleaners, fashion shows and free pencils.
The 17th annual event, which happens Friday through Sunday in the Century II Expo Hall, usually draws around 15,000 people, mostly women, who can shop, eat, learn and – most importantly, said organizer Chris Veazey Brown – spend some fun time with other women.
“A lot of people say, ‘Oh, I just can’t wait. I do this every single year,’” she said. “They usually come with a certain group, and they come every year. I love that. I love the tradition.”
But with more than 300 booths and three stages filled with nonstop programming, the Women’s Fair can cause sensory overload.
To help you cope, we offer this list of 9 Women’s Fair attractions that shouldn’t be missed:
1. Princess time: A new event this year will help introduce a new generation of potential Women’s Fair attendees to the show. From 1 to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, girls can attend a Fairytale Princess Party where Cinderella, the Little Mermaid and the Ice Queen (who cannot legally be called Elsa), will greet little visitors, sing for them, pose for pictures and distribute party favors. Little ones are encouraged to dress in their own princess wear. The big princesses are provided by Happily Ever After Princess Parties, a new Wichita business.
2. Girls Night Out: The festival will continue its popular opening-night event, which has a more festive, after-work party atmosphere and includes a wine tasting, a chocolate cooking demonstration by Cocoa Dolce’s Beth Tully, a main-stage fashion show focusing on spring apparel, and a hair show that will cover styles from decades past. The night also will include food samples from Panera, Jimmie’s Diner, Jerseys Grill and Bar and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro. Brown said people often assume the Friday-night party costs extra, but it’s included in the regular price of admission. “It just seems like it’s not quite as crowded as Saturday, which I think is a real plus,” she said. “People will get off work and just come straight there. They call friends and decide to make the evening a girls night out.” Girls Night Out lasts until 8 p.m.
3. All kinds of cooking: Those who don’t know how to cook entering the Women’s Fair likely will know how by the time they leave. Nine different cooking demonstrations will happen throughout the weekend, including Tully’s chocolate lesson on Friday and Italian cooking instruction by Carrabba’s chef Joe Parten at noon on Saturday. Cookbook author Kitchen Kimberley also will be back and will have shows on appetizers, soups, hot chocolate and more each day of the fair.
4. Celebrity sightings: Attendees also are likely to see celebrities, both local and otherwise. Lunchbox, one of the co-hosts on the syndicated Bobby Bones Show, will appear from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday. Nationally known nutrition expert Zonya Foco will share tips on boosting energy and fighting disease at 1 p.m. Saturday. Local personality Bonnie Bing will emcee Friday night’s Girls Night Out. And wine expert Guy Bower will be there, too, as will several local disc jockeys.
5. Wacky game-show games: Women’s Fair visitors also can participate in or watch silly games, including one modeled after “The Price is Right” that gives players a chance to win prizes. It’s at noon Saturday, and registration is at 11 a.m. Then, at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, the Generation Gap Contest will pit moms against daughters to see who knows more. Also, antique lovers can test their knowledge at the Paramount Antique Mall booth. It will display several unusual items, and anyone who can guess what they are will win a prize.
6. Big prizes, decent odds: The event will offer several big prizes, and at least one offers pretty good odds. Those who register at the Rusty Eck Ford booth between 3 and 6 p.m. Saturday have the chance to win a Fabulous Foodie Vegas Trip, which includes airfare for two, a hotel stay, dinner at Gordon Ramsay’s Caesar’s Place restaurant and $150 in spending cash. Only those who register during those three hours are eligible to win. Rusty Eck also will be giving away a $500 shopping spree. Attendees can register all day Friday and Saturday, and the winner will be notified in time to come back on Sunday and spend their winnings.
7. Fitness inspiration: More than 60 booths at the Women’s Fair will offer information on pain relief, allergy treatment, aging and menopause issues, weight loss and more. Women also can sign up at the fair for the G-30 Boot Camp Fitness Challenge, a team-event offered by Genesis that awards a trip to Las Vegas to the winning team.
8. Self-defense tips: Women also can learn how to protect themselves during a self-defense seminar offered at 1 p.m. It will include tips from Sgt. Robert Bolin of the Wichita Police Department.
9. Free stuff: Many of the booths at the fair offer freebies, from pens and pencils to salsa samples. Walgreens traditionally has had a booth full of free samples, and ring cleaning booths will return sparkle to wedding rings for free.
If you go
What: An event focused on women offering entertainment, information, cooking demonstrations and shopping.
When: Noon to 8 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Century II Expo Hall, 225 W. Douglas
How much: Admission at the door is $8.75, or $7.75 for seniors, $5.75 for ages 6-12, free for ages 5 and under
Parking: Doorside transportation from Lawrence-Dumont Stadium parking lot is free
Information: www.womensfair.com, 316-838-6895