River Festival

Say farewell to the festival with fireworks, food and fun

Fireworks served as a fitting finale Saturday night for yet another successful Riverfest.
Fireworks served as a fitting finale Saturday night for yet another successful Riverfest. File photo

Hold on a minute. Didn’t the Wichita Riverfest just start?

Even so, it’s already time for it to go, and organizers always save some of the best of the fest for the final weekend.

The big fireworks show. Concerts by the most well-known acts. Blacktop Nationals. And, of course, the funnel cake-eating contest.

Here’s a quick guide to what’s left.


Get out on the water with the Wagonmasters River Tour, departing from Ackerman’s Backyard underneath the Douglas Avenue Bridge on the east side of the Arkansas River from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday and noon to 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

Paddle boats also are available from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday on the river next to the Cox Kids Corner on the lawn of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, 400 W. Waterman.


Blacktop Nationals: Riverfest incorporated this 8-year-old car show into its calendar last year, and it returns on Friday with a big display of classic cars, motorcycles and more. New this year: All the vehicles will be on display inside the Century II Expo and Exhibition Halls, 225 W. Douglas, meaning you don’t have to sweat on the blacktop to enjoy the blacktop. The event is from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.

Common in concert on the Kennedy Plaza stage: Common, whose real name is Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., is a rapper and an actor whose best-known hits are “Glory,” an Acadamy Award-winning song from the 2014 film “Selma,” and “Southside” from his 2007 album “Finding Forever.” The stage is in front of Century II next to Douglas.

Common has appeared and starred in a long list of movies, including “Just Wright,” “New Year’s Eve,” “Being Charlie” and “American Aces.” Common is expected to take the stage at 9:15 p.m. Several warm-up acts will precede him, starting with DJ Carbon & Friends at 5 p.m., Marrquis Nunley at 6 p.m., A-Squared at 6:45 p.m. and Flobots at 7:45 p.m.

Randy Newman in concert on the Red Guard stage: Newman, an American singer-songwriter known for penning hits such as “Mama Told Me Not to Come,” “Louisiana 1927” and “I Love L.A.” and for composing scores for movies such as “Toy Story” and “Monsters, Inc.,” is expected to go on at 9 p.m. Opening act Daydream will perform at 5:30 p.m., followed by Marcia Ball at 7:30 p.m. The Red Guard Stage is in the Waterwalk area, southwest of Main and Waterman.


Riverfest Craftapalooza: This indoor craft festival starts at 11 a.m. on the festival’s final day and will feature decorative items made by artisans, upcyclers and junkers. It’s inside Century II, 225 W. Douglas.

Funnel cake-eating contest: This annual contest challenges big appetites to snarf down as many funnel cakes as they can as fast as they can. Some spots have already been filled via a radio contest, but any remaining spots will be filled at 2:30 p.m. the day of the event. It happens from 3 to 3:30 p.m. at the Century II Food Court.

OK Go in concert on the Kennedy Plaza stage: The finale concert will be put on by OK Go, a rock band known for its creative, choreographed videos. They take the stage at 9:30 p.m., but the night starts at 4:45 p.m. with Keen Kutter followed by Travel Guide at 6:15 p.m. and Lewis Del Mar at 7:45 p.m.

Fiesta Del Rio: The festival always puts together a lineup of norteno music, and this year, it’s on Saturday night at the Red Guard stage. It starts at 4 p.m. with Jazmin Elena and Tamborazo Alterados followed by Cheyo Carrillo at 4:30, Vatos Kumbia at 4:45 and Atrevidos de Chihuahua and Nano Machado at 6 p.m.

Starlight Flotilla: This annual event will feature a parade of boats covered with lights floating along the Arkansas River between the Douglas and Lewis streets bridges. It starts at 10:15 p.m.

Finale fireworks: This is the big fireworks show, and it starts at 10:30 p.m. Want to hear it set to music? Tune in to 103.7 FM-KEYN to hear a soundtrack. The best viewing spots, organizers say, will be on the river banks between the Douglas and Lewis bridges.

Related links:

Wichita Riverfest official site

Eagle coverage of 2017 Wichita River Festival


2017 Medallion winners share their secrets

Hungry? Tips from the Riverfest food court

Children participate in Pillowcase Project at Riverfest

Flaming Lips perform at Wichita River Festival

Sundown Parade opens Riverfest 2017

’Doc’ makes a low-altitude pass over downtown Wichita

Riverfest basics

▪ Admission to all events and concerts is included in the price of a River Festival button, available at the entry gates. Buttons are $10 for adults and $5 for ages 6-12. Ages 5 and younger are admitted free.

▪ Most events occur in downtown Wichita between Douglas, Lewis, Main and the Arkansas River.

▪ Uber and Lyft drop-off and pick-up spots are located at the festival gates.

▪ The Q-Line, the city’s free downtown trolley, will operate from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday. The Riverfest stops are at Douglas and Water and at Waco and First.

▪ Need to drop off someone who can’t walk long distances? Both English and William streets will be open to cars to drop off passengers next to Century II.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle