Under a new director and a revamped events schedule, Wichita River Festival officials said Wednesday that the festival saw about a 30 percent rise in attendance from last year.
Officials estimated total attendance at about 360,000 for the nine-day event, which ended Saturday. On-site button sales also increased from 12,000 last year to more than 30,000 this year.
Mary Beth Jarvis, president and CEO of Wichita Festivals Inc., which runs Riverfest, said the organization put a lot of effort into getting feedback from festivalgoers.
“We clearly heard a lot during the concerts themselves,” Jarvis said. “There was a tremendous amount of positive feedback.”
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Jarvis also said the added security and enforcement on wearing buttons helped make the week a success.
“People felt safe and secure with the security and button requirements enforced,” she said. “It really was a very good week in that respect.”
The warm, mostly clear weather held out until the final night, when the Go-Go’s concert and fireworks show were delayed more than an hour because of rain and lightning. People who stuck around waiting for the storm to pass were asked to go inside Century II for shelter. About 12,000 remained when the concert resumed.
Jarvis said the final night’s concert attendance probably would have exceeded the 22,000 in attendance at the Montgomery Gentry concert earlier in the week if it hadn’t been for the stormy weather. She said the festival is still compiling its financial results.
While Jarvis said the attendance numbers are a good sign for Riverfest, the feedback it gets will be just as important moving forward..
“Because it’s my first Riverfest, you have to feel your way through expectations,” Jarvis said. “I think the attendance numbers were good – my hope is that next year more people will be used to the button requirement.”