It didn’t take Jim Fleming long to fall in love with Riverside.
Fleming moved to his home at the corner of River Boulevard and Wiley Street about six months ago — a College Hill transplant. His house overlooks both Central Riverside Park and the Arkansas River.
There was just one thing missing from the neighborhood, Fleming said: People.
“There is this amazing resource here and very few people use it, enjoy it and benefit from it,” he said, referring to Central Riverside Park. “I see people using (Oak Park’s disc golf course) quite often, but otherwise (Riverside Park) is dead, and it’s just not getting utilization.”
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So Fleming has taken it upon himself to draw people to Central Riverside Park.
Starting Saturday, he will host a series of spring concerts dubbed the “Sunflower Sessions,” featuring noted local musicians performing from his front porch.
The concerts are free, but there is a suggested donation of $10 for the artists.
The aim, he said, is to draw people to the park.
“It’s a community effort primarily directed at the Riverside community and the citizens of Wichita as a way to get people out of their homes, and also to support the artists here,” he said. “There’s so much happening in Wichita and I just wanted to do my part to get involved in that and make Wichita a fun and exciting place to live.”
His front yard will hold about 100 people, he said, but the sound will carry over into the park as well. He’s bringing in professional sound equipment, he said.
In addition to live music, there will be space for about six artists to exhibit their work on a roughly 100-foot-long black fence during the Sunflower Sessions concerts. Artists interested in exhibiting can email him at email@example.com or call 316-200-0380.
Next year, he wants to move the concert series to the park’s gazebo, and he’s in the process of filling out a 14-page application to do so, he said with a laugh.
Fleming, who works as a business consultant, has lived in many cities – Miami, Chicago, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Newport Beach, Calif. He said he enjoys living in Wichita, where he has lived since 2005.
“It drives me nuts when I hear people from Wichita constantly talk down Wichita,” he said. “They don’t know what they have here. It’s a great place, and it gets more awesome every year.”
The Sunflower Sessions concert series starts from 4-6 p.m. Saturday with a performance by Jenny Wood. After this weekend, the concerts run exclusively on Sundays through May 27 (except April 8). They take place at 921 N. Wiley.
Other artists scheduled to perform include:
- 4-6 p.m. April 15: Knocknasheega Celtic Band
- 4-6 p.m. April 22: Sidecar Royales
- 4-6 p.m. April 29: Aaron Lee Martin
- 4-6 p.m. May 6: Dustin Arbuckle & Friends
- 4-6 p.m. May 13: Lisa Hittle Trio
- 4-6 p.m. May 20: Mischief Makers
- 4-6 p.m. May 27: Women Without Purses
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/sunflowermusicsessions.