Wichita summer events range from goosebumps to lanterns

Hot-air balloons at Riverfest near Waterwalk (May 2014)
Hot-air balloons at Riverfest near Waterwalk (May 2014) File photo

Here are a few can’t-miss activities happening this summer in Wichita.

1. “Goose Bumps: The Science of Fear” at Exploration Place, 300 N. McLean: This exhibit, which studies how humans respond to fear, opens on Saturday at the museum. The exhibit will test human responses to common fears, including falling, animals and loud noises. On opening weekend and on Father’s Day weekend June 20-21, the exhibit will include some extra activities, such as scissor lift riding, shock ball touching and more. The exhibit is included with regular admission, which is $9.50 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for ages 3 to 11, free for ages 2 and under and members. It runs through Sept. 7.

2. Lantern Festival: This new event, put on by a Utah company, will happen at 4 p.m. on Saturday at El Dorado State lake at the Waterside green space, 618 Bluestem Point Road. It invites people to gather at the lake and launch biodegradable lanterns into the night sky. Before the launch, people can dance, roast marshmallows and enjoy snacks provided by local vendors. For the litter averse: The lanterns are biodegradable, and professional “lantern chasers” will track them down and recover them. Registration includes a lantern. Ages 15 and younger can attend for free but won’t be able to light lanterns. A Lantern Pass costs $35 in advance and $40 the day of the event. It includes a wristband for entrance, a lantern, crayons to decorate the lantern and a s’mores kit. For more information, visit http://www.thelanternfest.com/.

3. Wichita Riverfest, May 29-June 6, downtown Wichita: The annual nine-day party returns this year with all the events its fans expect, from greasy food-court fare to fireworks. Put on by Wichita Festivals Inc., the communitywide event is staged around Century II and on the Hyatt Lawn. Highlights include concerts by big-name acts, and headliners this year are The Village People, country star Easton Corbin, hip-hop star DJ Jazzy Jeff and alternative band Flogging Molly. The festival also will bring back traditional favorites, including the River Run, a Cajun food festival, opening and closing night fireworks and the food court. This year, adults will be able to buy wine and craft beer. Buttons, which serve as admission to all festival events, are $10 for adults and $3 for children. They’re available in advance at QuikTrip and Dillons stores as well as at the Intrust Bank Arena Box office and at the Wichita Festivals Inc. office. The buttons also will be $10 and $3 at the festival gate. For a complete schedule of events, visit wichitariverfest.com/.

4. Fun on the Fourth: Wichita will have a citywide Fourth of July fireworks display for the first time since 2010, and the show will serve as the finale of a new all-day city event – the Independence Day Block Party Celebration. It will include a 1,000-foot water slide from the Lewis Street Bridge west across McLean Boulevard to Sycamore and Maple, an event sponsored by the Wichita Parks Foundation. The slide will be open from 1 to 8 p.m. July 4 and will feature one-slide, three-slide and unlimited-slide passes. People can pre-register at www.slidethecity.com/events/wichita. Prices range from $25 to $65. Other activities will include inflatables in the Lawrence-Dumont Stadium parking lot.

5. Blacktop Nationals, Aug. 21-23: This mega-car event now in its sixth year is a summertime staple in Wichita and usually fills the area in and around Century II with classic cars, motorcycles and more than 170,000 fans of both. Visitors from more than 20 states come to the event, which also features food trucks, flyover veterans tributes and car memorabilia. The event also usually gives attendees the chance to drive or ride in some of the cars on enclosed courses – or take heart-stopping, tire-shredding rides with professional drivers. Watch www.blacktopnationals.com/ for a schedule, which should be posted closer to the event.