Restaurant News & Reviews

May 30, 2012

What’s new on the River Festival food front

Wichita River Festival foods: They come. They go. They move all over the place.

Wichita River Festival foods: They come. They go. They move all over the place.

This year’s festival will feature several culinary additions, subtractions and relocations.

Among them:

New location, look and vendors for the main food court:

The main food court, known for its funnel cakes, tater twists and giant ears of corn, has a new home this year. It’ll be in the middle of Douglas Avenue, just in front of Century II, 225 W. Douglas. Traffic is closed from Waco to Water for the duration of the festival.

Last year, in an effort to get the food and festival fun closer to the river, festival organizers moved the food court from its longtime home on the drive east of Century II to a parking lot on the west side of Century II. But the spot was hidden and too traffic-heavy, festival President and Chief Executive Janet Wright said.

This year’s main food court also will have a different look. Vendors have been offered the choice of setting up either in the traditional white tents or in their own mobile food vending units, and about half have opted for the tents.

Most of the same vendors will be back at the main food court this year, including the Original Corn Roast, Dippin Dots and Chan’s Concessions. The Tad’s Bodacious Burritos booth, which for years has sold colorful and fat burritos, won’t be returning, but there will be a new vendor: Monster Grill will serve big burgers, including a $20 two-pounder called the “Mega Monster.”

This year, the food court also is offering reduced-price lunch specials Monday through Thursday. See The Eagle’s dining blog at for a list of discounts.

Main food court hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. today; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. June 8 and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. June 9. As always, patrons must buy strips or books of $1 tickets to pay for food.

WaterWalk Pavilion is back:

Last year, the festival introduced the WaterWalk Pavilion — a venue designed to attract a professional after-work crowd for music, food and adult beverages on the lawn south of the Hyatt Regency Wichita. That concept returns this year and opens Saturday with the band Fly By Night at 4:30 p.m., followed by Kelley Hunt at 8 p.m. and food provided by The Flying Stove food truck. It closes a week later, on June 9, with music by RKO Blues Band at 4 p.m., The Benders at 6 p.m. and food by Abuelo’s. Other participating restaurants through the week include Da’ Cajun Shak, Fox & Hound and Carrabba’s.

The WaterWalk events are in the evenings Saturday through June 9, and admission is free with a festival button. Food is an extra charge.

Cajun Food Fest is gone:

Unable to agree on a new location for the annual Cajun Food Fest, sponsor Goodwill Industries and the festival decided to part ways. Goodwill Industries is planning to stage the fundraiser on its own later this year. Cajun fans still can find Zydeco fun at the festival, though. On Thursday, the traditional day for the Cajun Food Fest, the WaterWalk Pavilion will offer music from The Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco Band at 6 p.m. and food from Da’ Cajun Shak, including fried catfish, jambalaya, red beans and rice and more.

Adult beverages:

The festival again this year will allow patrons to take adult beverages from WaterWalk Pavilion to A. Price Woodard Park and back, as long as they walk along the river and both venues are officially open.

If only one of the two venues is open, patrons may purchase alcohol and keep it in that location.

Westbank Food Court:

A few vendors will sell food and beer at the Westbank Food Court, open from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. today and from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday during the Rick Springfield and Kellie Pickler concerts.

Hiland Dairy Ice Cream Social:

The free ice cream-a-palooza this year is scheduled for 7:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday on Douglas near Waco.

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