Keeper of the Plans

A day-by-day guide to Riverfest 2017

The parade to kick off Riverfest begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
The parade to kick off Riverfest begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday. File photo

Looking to spend some time downtown this week for Riverfest but unsure about what to do?

This year’s Riverfest is packed with fun events daily – though there’s nothing wrong with just meandering about for a couple of hours, soaking in the experience.

 Eagle coverage of 2017 Wichita River Festival

Admission to the concerts and events are all included in the price of a River Festival button: $10 for adults and $5 for ages 6-12.

Here are some highlights for every day of Riverfest 2017.


▪ The Eagle Medallion Hunt, June 1-8, mystery location

Throughout the week, The Wichita Eagle Medallion Hunt is ongoing. Use your sleuthing skills to find the medallion, hidden somewhere on public property, using cryptic clues that appear daily in The Wichita Eagle and online at The prize is $1,000.

▪ Safelite AutoGlass Sundown Parade, 6:30 p.m., downtown

The Sundown Parade is always one of the highlights of Riverfest’s opening night. Come see floats, bands, flag-twirlers and other parade staples. The parade route is along Waco and Main between Third and Douglas, and Douglas between Waco and Main. Hot air balloons are scheduled to launch overhead during the parade. Riverfest is usually packed for the rest of the evening, so it’s best just to stick around for the rest of the evening’s festivities.

▪ Chroma Dance Party, 8 p.m., RedGuard Stage

This EDM party is not for those who want to keep their clothes clean. Paint cannons are expected to shoot paint 10 to 15 feet in the air while people below dance to the music of favorite local DJs. Attendees typically come in white clothes and expect to leave drenched in paint.

▪ Textron Aviation Opening Night Fireworks, 10 p.m., Arkansas River

A trip to the Riverfest on opening night wouldn’t be complete without the fireworks show. Fireworks start at 10 p.m., following the Twilight Pops Concert featuring the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. Prime viewing areas are going to be along the Arkansas River from Lewis to First Street.


▪ Wichicon, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Century II

This new event is a comic-book convention inside Century II’s Bob Brown Expo Hall, and people seem pretty excited about it. There will be activities, merchandise and fun for all. The convention also runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

▪ Kansas Health Foundation River Run, 7 a.m., along the Arkansas River

At the 41st River Run, you can register for either the 10K or 2-mile runs. The race is always one of the most packed and competitive on the Wichita race calendar, so even if you’re not running, it’s worth watching. The 10K route this year generally runs up and down the Arkansas River. Registration for the run is not included with your Riverfest button.

▪ The Flaming Lips, 9:30 p.m., Kennedy Plaza Stage

Alt-rock band The Flaming Lips comes to Wichita, one of the festival’s musical highlights. Admission to the show is free with your Riverfest button. Before the show, check out Herd of the Huntress (4:30 p.m.), Spirit of the Stairs (6 p.m.) and Foxygen (7:45 p.m.), all on the Kennedy Plaza stage.

▪ Stock Tank Races, 2 p.m., Arkansas River

The Riverfest’s latest attempt to re-create its famous bathtub races. The premise: Farmers and ranchers bring stock tanks that will then float down the river in a wacky sort of race. Will it work? You’ll have to see for yourself.


▪ Canoe and Kayak Rides, noon-5 p.m., Arkansas River

Ever wanted to ride a canoe or kayak in the river but never had the equipment to do so? The Arkansas River Coalition has you covered, providing free canoe and kayak rides. The group is also doing the rides on the Arkansas River just north of the Maple Street bridge from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

▪ Wings of the Wind Kite Festival, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., RedGuard Stage

Have a kite and want a place to fly it? Try Riverfest. Wings of the Wind is sponsoring a kite festival in the RedGuard Stage area.

▪ Take Flight: Butterfly House Opening, 1-5 p.m., Botanica, 701 N. Amidon

Botanica’s Butterfly House is opening to the public, which is always a good time to relax with the kids. The first 100 people in line at Botanica will be able to release a butterfly. Admission is $6 with a Riverfest button.


▪ Kids Day, all afternoon Monday and Tuesday

This year, the Riverfest is putting more focus on kids on Monday and Tuesday afternoons. There will be clowns, jugglers, magicians, balloon twisters and more. There is a Kids Karaoke Party scheduled for 3 p.m. Monday at the RedGuard Stage.

▪ Gospelfest, 5-9:30 p.m., Kennedy Plaza Stage

Gospel fans: Head on over to Riverfest on Monday evening for a smorgasbord of gospel music. A community choir will kick off this celebration of praise, which culminates in a performance by gospel star Jonathon Nelson.


▪ Festival of Broadway, 6-9:30 p.m., Kennedy Plaza Stage

Check out performances from various Wichita theaters, beginning with Laughing Feet Performers at 6:30 p.m., Roxy’s Downtown at 7:15 p.m. and Mosley Street Melodrama at 8 p.m. The night culminates in a showcase from Music Theatre Wichita at 8:45 p.m.

▪ “Don’t Let Them Get in Your Head” concert, 5-8 p.m., RedGuard Stage

Wichita rocker Jenny Wood will put on a special performance inspired by her anti-bullying anthem, “Don’t Let Them Get in Your Head.” Wood often goes to local schools to perform this program, and students will join Wood on stage Tuesday evening.


▪ Wet ‘N Wild Dance Party, 5-10 p.m., Kennedy Plaza Stage

Wednesday evening brings with it the Wet ‘N Wild Dance Party, though it’s not totally clear how wet it’s going to get. Bands performing include Kill Vargas at 5:30 p.m., The Toasters at 7:15 p.m. and headliner Less Than Jake at 9 p.m.

▪ Hiland Dairy Ice Cream Social, 6 p.m., Douglas and Water

Don’t miss this Riverfest tradition, featuring a complimentary bowl of ice cream served by the Wichita Wagonmasters. Also related: There’s an Ice Cream Sandwich Charity Contest scheduled for the same time at the same place. So if you enjoy watching people gorge themselves on ice cream while you eat, there’s that.

June 8

▪ Goodwill Cajun Food Fest, 5-8:30 p.m., Kennedy Plaza Stage

The Cajun Food Fest, sponsored by Goodwill, returns for another year. For $10, enjoy generous portions of various Louisiana favorites, including chicken etouffee, red beans and sausage served over rice, and homemade bread pudding topped with a bourbon custard sauce.

▪ Tallgrass Film Association Movie Night, 8:30-10:15 p.m., RedGuard Stage

Looking for a free screening of “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure?” Got it. Tallgrass Film Association is sponsoring a screening of the family-friendly 1985 film. Admission is free with a Riverfest button.

June 9

▪ Blacktop Nationals, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Century II

Blacktop Nationals is back. The two-day car show is inside Century II’s Expo, Convention and Exhibition Halls on Friday and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday. Check out all kinds of custom cars inside the air-conditioning of Century II, all free with your Riverfest button.

▪ Koch Industries Presents Common, 9:15 p.m., Kennedy Plaza Stage

Award-winning rapper/actor Common will perform in a concert sponsored by Koch Industries. Admission is free with a Riverfest button, and if you can’t get close to the stage, check out the LED video boards scattered throughout the area that will be simulcasting the show.

▪ Randy Newman, 9 p.m., RedGuard Stage

So you have a choice: Either see the Common show or the Randy Newman show on the RedGuard Stage. It’s just too bad both high-profile artists were scheduled at the same time during the festival.

June 10

▪ OK Go, 9:30 p.m., Kennedy Plaza Stage

Rock band OK Go will perform to cap off Riverfest 2017. Before OK Go takes the stage, don’t miss Keen Kutter at 4:45 p.m., The Travel Guide at 6:15 p.m. and Lewis Del Mar at 7:45 p.m.

▪ Starlight Flotilla, 10:15 p.m., Arkansas River

It’s like a parade, but for boats on the Arkansas River. The closing night of Riverfest will be complete with a boat parade with lights just before the fireworks are scheduled to begin.

▪ Capitol Federal Fireworks Finale, 10:30 p.m., Arkansas River

And, of course, don’t miss the closing-night fireworks display along the Arkansas River. Primary viewing spots will be along the river in the main festival grounds areas.

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