Five summer events you must check out

Watermark Books & Cafe will throw a party on July 30 to celebrate the release of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”
Watermark Books & Cafe will throw a party on July 30 to celebrate the release of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” Courtesy photo

1. Reed Family Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley

The Sedgwick County Zoo’s new exhibit officially opens at 10 a.m. Friday, May 27, with a ribbon cutting and dedication. Check out the five-acre, $10 million exhibit and meet Stephanie’s six new friends — Simunye, Titan, Arusi, Zuberi, Xolani and Talia.

2. Wichita River Festival

It’s a “Party in ICT” when Riverfest celebrates its 45th year from June 3 to 11. In addition to fireworks shows both kicking off and providing the grand finale to the fest, this year will bring an on-site Habitat for Humanity house build, and the River Run will return to the first Saturday, June 4. This year, Blacktop Nationals joins the Riverfest from June 9-11. Musical acts will include the Roots, Naughty by Nature, Elle King and the Violent Femmes. Comedian Sinbad also will make a musical appearance. Admission for all of it is a Riverfest button, which costs $10, or $3 for ages 6 to 12. Ages 5 and under get in free.

3. Fourth of July festivities

Fireworks will be shot off downtown on the Fourth of July. The evening will start at 5 p.m. with food trucks and a bar on the Hyatt lawn, 400 W. Waterman; the Astronauts will play 1980s and 1990s covers starting at 7 p.m. The fireworks will be around 9:30 p.m., both aerially and on barges in the river between the Douglas Avenue and Lewis Street bridges. The Wichita Wingnuts will play the Laredo Lemurs starting at 6:05 p.m. at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, 300 S. Sycamore.

On the Saturday before, Old Cowtown Museum, 1865 W. Museum Blvd., will have an old-fashioned Fourth celebration called Celebrate America. There will be a pie-eating contest, carnival games, sack races and a vintage baseball game on July 2. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is included in admission — $7.75, $6.50 for seniors, $6 for ages 12 to 17, $5.50 for ages 5 to 11, free for ages 4 and under — or membership.

4. Harry Potter book release

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” picks up the story of Harry, Ron and Hermione where the epilogue left off, standing on Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts, waving goodbye to their school-age children, according to author J.K. Rowling’s website, Pottermore.

To celebrate, Watermark Books & Cafe, 4701 E. Douglas, is throwing a midnight party that starts at 11 p.m. July 30, with games, a costume contest with an adult and child division and a trivia contest. It’s a ticketed event. See details at watermarkbooks.com. Look for more events as the release date – which coincides with the 20th anniversary of the original publication of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” – comes closer. Or dust off your wands and conjure up your own celebration.

5. Automobilia’s Moonlight Car Show and Street Party

The event returns to the streets of downtown Wichita on July 9. Look for three food courts, a model car contest, bands, merchandise and, of course, cars, from 6 p.m. to midnight. Admission is free. This event is sponsored by Automobilia, a retail store that’s all about cars.