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Wichita's new bucket list showcases city's gems

Sights and sounds of a typical Final Friday

A sampling of sights and sounds from Final Friday art gallery crawl on South Commerce.
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A sampling of sights and sounds from Final Friday art gallery crawl on South Commerce.

It's not so much a last hurrah as it is a greeting card for the city of Wichita.

That, local officials and business executives say, is why a recently minted Wichita Bucket List is in high demand..

The bucket list is a variety of regular events and activities that showcase local flavor, talent and spirit in Wichita.

"These are all of our city’s gems," said Alejo Cabral, director of Young Professionals of Wichita. "These are places that local Wichitans like to go."

More than just a collection of interesting or fun things to do, the list, a joint effort of the Young Professionals and Greater Wichita Partnership, has become an effective tool to show potential and current employees experiences that make Wichita a good place to live, Cabral and other officials say.

"Young people want authentic experiences, and this list and lists like this offer them the opportunity to experience Wichita in its authentic self," Cabral said.

Jenna Lysen knew she wanted to make use of the bucket list with her interns when she showed it to her recruiting team at Allen, Gibbs & Houlik "and they went 'Wow!'"

"I think sometimes people that live here don't realize all the amazing things about Wichita," said Lysen, vice president of human resources at the downtown accounting firm.

The Wichita Bucket List is actually an outgrowth of an earlier venture. Local businesses looking for ways to help their interns enjoy their time in Wichita last summer asked the Greater Wichita Partnership for a list of fun things to do around town.

Working with Young Professionals of Wichita, the partnership created a bucket list of summer activities. That list proved so popular corporate officials asked for a list of activities and events that could be enjoyed year-round.

The list includes a link to more than 100 local experiences, among them local breweries, coffee houses and restaurants.

"This is the type of stuff that people remember," Cabral said. "It's going to make you choose one city over another. Those personal amenities, the cultural amenities ... this isn't just a chain city."

When attorney Samantha Woods of the law firm Martin Pringle heard about the new list, she snapped up copies to give to interns when they arrive on Monday.

"It gives us another tool to help them see all the cool things happening in Wichita," Woods said. "It's always our goal to sell our interns on not just Martin Pringle but Wichita as a whole."

The new, more timeless list includes activities familiar to many, such as the Final Friday Art Crawl. Others may not be as well known, such as renting a bike for a ride to the "Keeper of the Plains" and watching the "Ring of Fire" ignite along the Arkansas River.

There's also Gallery Alley, which offers art or movies every last Friday and Saturday of the month, and 2nd Saturdays, which feature discounts at businesses.

One of the list's strengths is that it was put together by people who have no personal or professional ties to the events or businesses listed, Cabral said.

"You're getting an unbiased look" at the city, he said. "This list was put together by people who love Wichita."

The list is an easy way to learn about the city, said Jaimie Garnett, a spokeswoman for the Greater Wichita Partnership.

"I think there’s so much to do in Wichita, sometimes it's not easy for people to connect with all of the opportunities," Garnett said.

Last year's interns at Allen, Gibbs & Houlik came up with the idea of touring local breweries and enjoying other local attractions on their own, Woods said.

That brought home the realization "maybe we weren't paying enough attention" to what was available locally, Woods said.

"When I found out about this (list), I thought we'll at least be able to provide our interns this year with something interesting," Woods said. "In Wichita, things are spread out. It can be easy to miss some things if you're not plugged in.

"The bucket list is a good way to make sure you don't have to be plugged in to get to know about things to do."

Even longtime residents of Wichita could have fun with the bucket list, Lysen said. She saw events and activities that she hadn't participated in — or done for a long time.

"I think it's a real exciting time," Lysen said. "There's lots of pride in Wichita in our young professionals."

It shows in the Wichita flag pins many of them wear and the Wichita flag license plates they have on their vehicles, she said.

It wasn't that long ago, Lysen said, that when they went out of town on recruiting trips "we had to sell Wichita pretty hard" to attract interest.

Now it's much easier, she said, especially when young professionals are doing the pitching.

"You could just see the pride come out in them when they’re talking about Wichita," Lysen said.

Something like the Wichita Bucket List shows it's not all just talk.

"There’s just so much going on I don’t know if you can keep up with it," Lysen said.

Wichita Bucket List

Rent an ICTBikeShare, ride to the "Keeper of the Plains" and watch the "Ring of Fire" ignite along the Arkansas River.

Watch a movie or view art in Gallery Alley every last Friday and Saturday of the month.

View local artwork at unique venues downtown during the Final Friday Art Crawl, which is held every last Friday of the month except December.

Explore Wichita's local businesses and receive discounts every 2nd Saturday of the month.

Listen to entrepreneurs discuss their journeys during the Google-powered event Startup Grind, which is held every second Thursday of the month.

Check out Wichita's local breweries, among them: Central Standard Brewing, Hopping Gnome, River City Brewery, Aero Plains Brewery, Third Place Brewery and Wichita Brewing Company.

Take in Wichita's performing art groups, which are nationally known: Wichita Symphony Orchestra, Wichita Grand Opera, Music Theatre Wichita, Broadway in Wichita.

Enjoy Wichita sporting events: Wichita State Shockers, Wichita Thunder, Wichita Force, Polo on the Plains, ICT Roller Derby, indoor skydiving and numerous golf courses.

Participate in Wichita's many festivals, among them Riverfest, TacoFest, Tallgrass Film Festival, Downtown Chili Cookoff and the Anime Festival.

Venture to the local food trucks at the Pop-Up Park every day of the workweek in downtown Wichita or at the Fountains at WaterWalk on every last Sunday of the month.

More than 100 unique experiences in Wichita can be found at http://bit.ly/100WichitaExperiences.

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