WICHITA — Someone must have had a talk with Mother Nature Friday to make sure the wind was mighty present when Wichita Festivals Inc. announced Chris Goebel as the 38th Admiral Windwagon Smith of the Riverfest.
In fact, the Kansas wind was so forceful that the windwagon — the original that Goebel helped his father Bill and uncle Bob build — didn't get to come out and play at the news conference at Exploration Place.
"You'd think today would be a great day for a windwagon," Wichita Festivals president and CEO Janet Wright told a crowd gathered to learn who this year's Admiral Windwagon would be. "But you'd probably be in Oklahoma by 6 o'clock."
Goebel, the CEO of Star Lumber, has been involved with Riverfest for more than 25 of its 40 years. One of his jobs as a Wagonmaster was to add the names of each year's admiral to a plaque.
In all that time, "I didn't contemplate my name being added," he said.
Goebel noted his uncle, Bob Goebel, was the festival's 22nd Admiral Windwagon. He said it'll be easy to remember his uncle was the 22nd and he is the 38th because they both reference gun calibers.
Donning the traditional bright red admiral's jacket, Goebel said he has fond memories of helping with the festival, especially with the Star Barge, which ferried people across the Arkansas River.
There were a few close calls with that barge, he said, recalling one time a truck got stuck in the river.
The nine-day festival will be later this year _ June 3 to 11.
This year's theme is "Rediscover Riverfest."
Goebel said there will be a great mix of traditional, time-honored events and some changes, such as the food court moving to the west side of Century II closer to the river.
Riverfest buttons go on sale May 2 for $5 online at www.wichitariverfest.com and at Dillons, Quik Trip and Walgreens stores.
Volunteers still are needed. Information about volunteer opportunities is available at the website or by calling or e-mailing volunteer coordinator Jill Massey at (316) 267-2817, Ext. 11, or firstname.lastname@example.org.