Riverfest to get new attractions

04/27/2011 12:00 AM

05/31/2012 9:11 AM

A zip line across the river and an upscale area at WaterWalk are two new pieces of Riverfest that promoters hope will help rebrand the event in its 40th year.

Most of the events will move a little closer to the Arkansas River this year, highlighting improvements along the banks. The entry price remains $5 and the festival has been pushed back to June 3-11 with hopes for better weather than past years.

"The weather is forecast to be perfect," Clay Bastian, chair of Wichita Festivals Inc., told City Council members to a few chuckles Tuesday.

The festival will have four areas offering distinct elements.

One of the new features is the WaterWalk Pavilion, which will have an "upscale environment" that people can enjoy in the evenings under a giant tent with food and drinks from different restaurants each evening, said Janet Wright, festival president and CEO of Wichita Festivals, which produces the event.

"This is not festival food," she said. "This is more regular food that those people that don't enjoy funnel cakes, like me, will probably enjoy a little more."

The pavilion will feature music from local blues, rock, pop and zydeco bands from 6 to 9 p.m. weekdays and until 10 p.m. on weekends.

Monday through Wednesday evenings of the festival, people can gather at WaterWalk and listen to and ask questions of people impersonating three Kansas heroes — James Naismith, inventor of basketball; John Brown, the abolitionist, and Amelia Earhart, the aviation legend.

A. Price Woodard Park, along the east bank of the river south of Douglas, will be home to many of the festival's traditional vendors and a floating stage where performers will play during most regular festival hours. It will also have a place to buy alcohol and an area folks can jump on a zip line that starts on the east side of the river and ends on the west side near the Douglas Avenue Bridge.

"I think the mayor should go first," Vice Mayor Lavonta Williams joked.

The west bank between Douglas and First Street will house the Kansas Star Music Park, where the Twilight Pops concert and fireworks will kick off the festival. It will also be where most of the national entertainers perform.

Exploration Place and the Keeper of the Plains area will have a children's activity area, miniature golf and other activities. People can also grab a discounted ticket into Exploration Place during the festival.

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