Wichitans, get ready to become great pals with Harley and Skip.
Their creator, Scott Dawson introduced them Wednesday during a press conference at Emprise Bank as the winning design for Wichita River Festival 2014 buttons and posters.
As Dawson put it, Harley is a “human-like form ... I wanted to do something that didn’t offend or show bias towards any gender or race.”
So, Harley, a leaping bluish harlequin was created along with his fish buddy, Skip, complete with a few sprinkles of confetti and fireworks with the moon and the Wichita skyline in the background.
As Mary Beth Jarvis, president and CEO of Wichita Festivals put it, “It just screams celebration and hopefully will become cherished throughout the year.”
This year’s Riverfest theme is “Hoopla in Doo-Dah!”
A version of Dawson’s artwork will be featured on every $5 adult button; $3 child button and on posters everywhere.
Dawson, a freelance artist for more than two decades, has won the Riverfest art contest two other times – in 1992 with a swan constructed of musical instruments and 2011, with a butterfly motif.
“I’ve entered quite a few times, mostly lost,” Dawson joked Wednesday. “But this year and a couple of other years I was fortunate to win.”
Dawson said he knew avid fans of Riverfest often collect the buttons, t-shirts and posters from year to year.
“It’s nice to feel a part of the festival as a contributor,” Dawson said. “One of the fun things is seeing the old merchandise around town. I was recently at Dillons and saw a man with laughing swan design t-shirt buying milk. This was like a week ago. And that (design) was in 1992. And I was thinking, ‘Get some new clothes!’ ”
For having the winning design, Dawson was presented with a $3,500 check.
Other Riverfest announcements made during the Wichita Festivals Wednesday press conference include moving the Kids Corner to the WaterWalk area to give families more room, Jarvis said. And, in A. Price Woodard Park, there will be a happy-hour area for adults to relax. It has been nicknamed “Ackerman’s Backyard,” after the early Wichita businessman who created the historic “Wonderland” on an island that stretched from Douglas to Second Street.
Two changes made during 2013 will also be used again for the 2014 festival, Jarvis said: a securely gated perimeter and all events free with a Riverfest button.