Wichita Riverfest season started Friday with a “Party in ICT,” which also happens to be the theme of this year’s 45th annual event.
At the same time, organizers revealed the artwork chosen to adorn this year’s buttons and promotional materials — a Wichita flag-inspired piece created by local designer Chris Parks.
Speaking at a kickoff news conference at Emprise Bank, Riverfest President and CEO Mary Beth Jarvis announced a few other additions and adjustments to this year’s festival. She revealed that the early-bird button price has gone up from $5 to $7, and she shared plans to launch an on-site Habitat for Humanity house build during the festival’s 10-day run, June 3 to 11.
Parks, who also won the contest in 1998 with his image of a cartoon admiral driving a mechanical Windwagon, said he found his inspiration this year glancing in the window of a downtown coffee shop one evening.
“I was driving by Espresso To Go Go, and I saw a disco ball, and I thought, ‘What if this was a pulsating version of the now-iconic Wichita flag, pulsating to music?’ My son was in the back seat listening to Daft Punk, and I thought, ‘There are so many neat things about the flag.’ ”
Two versions of Parks’ design were revealed on Friday. The adult button and official poster are reminiscent of Wichita’s red, white and blue flag and have the theme “Party in ICT” printed in retro type in the center with shadowed images of musical notes, a bicycle, water droplets and a smiling sun in the background. The child button is similar, but the smiling sun is the centerpiece and red is the dominant color.
“I really wanted it to be a gig poster,” Parks said. “Each year, the events keep getting better and the music just keeps getting better, and I thought of it as one big gig poster for one big party in ICT.”
Parks won $3,500 for his winning design.
Last year, organizers raised the adult button price to $10 but offered a $5 presale price. The presale started Friday, but this time, early-bird buttons are $7, while child buttons remain $3. They’re available for preorder online at Select-a-Seat now through April 11, but service fees will be attached to the orders. From April 2 to May 5, people can buy adult buttons for $7 plus $3 kid buttons from the Riverfest office, Intrust Bank Arena box office and Cox Solutions stores with no extra fees. Starting May 6, buttons will cost $10 and $3. Children 5 and under will be admitted free.
Among the other bits of information Jarvis shared:
▪ The festival will team with Habitat for Humanity to build a house on a platform near the Wichita Boathouse during the festival. It should be completed by festival’s end and will be transferred to south Delano. Volunteers will need to sign up in advance with Habitat for Humanity.
▪ The River Run, which last year moved to the final Saturday of the event, will return to the first Saturday. It will be on June 4.
▪ The festival will again have a smaller fireworks show on opening night and the big finale on its closing night, June 11.
▪ The festival will announce some of its musical acts on Feb. 17.
For more information on the Riverfest, visit www.wichitariverfest.com.