River Festival

It’s official: No ‘people-powered’ events on the river this year at Riverfest

The Arkansas River just couldn’t seem to slow down in time.

The river has been flooded, fast-flowing and debris-filled ever since an extended period of rainfall last month — which threw a wrench in some of Riverfest’s plans. The City of Wichita officially closed the river to the public last week.

Festival officials had been playing it by ear to see whether the river might be able to reopen by festival’s end for its popular paddleboats, kayaks, and boating events.

But on Wednesday, the decision was made to cancel all events featuring “people-powered craft” in the river, said Teri Mott, director of marketing and communication for Wichita Festivals.

“The current is still very rapid, and there is debris in the river,” she said. “We just don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

Officials will assess on Friday whether the Wagonmasters River Tours — aboard the SS Waterwagon motorboat — will be able to resume this weekend, Mott said.

Despite that, the festival has plenty of on-land activities scheduled for its final weekend.

Here’s a sampling of some of the highlights this closing weekend:

  • Capitol Federal Fireworks Finale, 10:45 p.m. Sat.

The grand finale of Riverfest will return immediately following the conclusion of the Spirit AeroSystems Rockin’ on the River Concert — featuring Sublime with Rome. Prime viewing areas will be near the river between Waterman and First Street. Tune in to KEYN 103.7-FM for the simulcast of the fireworks show.

  • Riverfest Classic Car Show, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri., 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sat., Century II — Expo Hall

A smattering of classic and custom cars will be on display in Century II’s air-conditioned Expo Hall, free for anyone to view with a Riverfest button. This year the car show is adding a special display featuring custom lowriders and bicycles, called the Midwest Super Car Show — taking place all day Saturday.

  • MapMusik Video Postcard, 7:15-7:30 p.m. Fri., Kennedy Plaza Stage

Ever since the start of the festival, volunteers with MapMusik have been collecting various festival sounds that percussionist Von Hansen will assemble into a music piece. That piece will be performed Friday evening on the Kennedy Plaza Stage

For a full schedule of events, visit www.wichitariverfest.com or download the Riverfest app.

Matt Riedl covers arts and entertainment news for the Wichita Eagle and has done so since 2015. He maintains the Keeper of the Plans blog on Facebook, dedicated to keeping Wichitans abreast of all things fun.
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