Living Columns & Blogs

What’s not to love about Riverfest?

Participants try their hand at tossing and catching a raw egg during the egg toss contest at Riverfest 2017.
Participants try their hand at tossing and catching a raw egg during the egg toss contest at Riverfest 2017. The Wichita Eagle

Some of my friends think I’m crazy because I love River Festival. Every year, I am amazed that the whole thing comes together. Event after event after event. Even a little rain doesn’t dampen the spirits of those of us who don our buttons and go to our favorite events every year.

I think the people who don’t take part in at least some of the fun, well, they’re the crazy ones. The parade, the fireworks, the food court food and, yes, the concerts make the effort to get there worthwhile.

And the people watching are outstanding. True, the unbelievable outfits that some people show up in turn heads and make you wonder what they were thinking.

For example, last year a woman had her official button pinned on her headband. That was fine, but I’m sad to report her headband was the largest piece of clothing she was wearing. Well, nearly anyway. And this woman wasn’t exactly runway material for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. But we must never let things we can’t unsee keep us away.

You’ll see a lot of people you know, and if you happened to be at the egg toss this year, you would have known everyone trying to gingerly catch a raw egg without dropping it. My partner was Sierra Scott. She is better at this than I am. We did fine for several tosses, but then I managed to let the egg hit my bony thumb instead of my soft little palm. Sierra wasn’t mad at me, she was just happy we weren’t the first ones out of the competition. I won’t tell you who was out first, but you might want to ask The Eagle’s Denise Neil and Matt Riedl how they did.

One year when the River Festival was going on, we had out-of-town guests from Dallas. They were impressed with all the activities. I told them it was just a typical Wichita weekend. Then they were really impressed. Until my husband told them the truth.

I’ve been going to River Festival ever since it was the Wichitennial celebration in 1970. And to use an old phrase: It’s come a long way, baby. The River Festival staff must spend all year figuring out how to make the whole experience more fun, more convenient and more comfortable.

A lot of people have traditions they’ve followed for years. One family I know goes to the very same spot every year to watch the fireworks with the same family that lived next door to them for years. They’re no longer neighbors, but it’s a once-a-year tradition they have no plans of breaking.

Where else can you attend a party that lasts for days and all you have to do is put on your official $10 River Festival button, $3 for kids, and get yourself down there? Kids under 5 are free, for Pete’s sake.

River Festival is over for another year, but if you missed out, there is next year. If you haven’t been, or haven’t gone in years, give it a try next year. Who knows – you might be crazy about it.