Fun: It does a community good

A community, like a family, is forged together by what we share.

Just like extended families and wide circles of friends, strong communities are made up of people who may be wildly different – in personality or background or interests. But they are bound together because of what they’ve experienced together and the goals they have in common.

Whether you’re talking about a family or a community, tough things bind us – shared sadness or struggle or plain hard work. But so does joy. And fun. And celebration.

Our community’s history is full of shared experiences. Happily, tons of those are ‘high-five’ moments – times we celebrated together, kicked back and had some fun. We all remember them in our own context: the favorite players we cheered on through WSU’s recent March Madness runs, how it felt to walk into our shiny new airport for the first time, or which of our friends introduced us to the eclectic experience of a Final Friday art crawl or a Tallgrass Film Festival party. Fun is personal, after all.

But don’t forget that many of our moments of fun with family and friends are a slice of a bigger picture, our community’s shared history of celebration. Events, entertainment, attractions – particularly those that gather us together in the heart of Wichita – are vital to who we are as a community and how we can continue to grow as a dynamic, welcoming city.

We at Wichita Festivals are all about adding to this history of shared celebration. And everything we do serves a common goal, which is that Wichita continues to thrive.

For 46 years we’ve been doing our Riverfest thing, and we’re proud to do it in a way that’s unique to Wichita. Like other festivals across the country, we construct big stages, line up the food court tents and have a killer party. But our “for the community, by the community” approach is unlike anywhere else.

We mix heritage with innovation and gather community and volunteer support to keep Riverfest affordable and chock full of quality options for fun. With more than 100 events wrapped up in one nine-day party, we want everyone to find what they see as fun nestled inside this giant, shared experience for our community. Each year, we infuse more than $25 million into the local economy by throwing one of the world’s 50 largest outdoor events. (Yep, that’s how you roll, Wichita!)

But the shared fun so necessary for our city to thrive doesn’t stop there. We’re proud to organize Autumn & Art, a three-day fine-art festival at beautiful Bradley Fair. And, we’ve just announced a whole new event – Wichita Vortex Music Festival – a unique music/urban camping experience set for late this summer in the shadow of the Keeper of the Plains. Give those events a whirl, or opt instead for a great afternoon at one of Wichita’s many museums, attractions and other special events.

The bottom line? Having fun together is a key ingredient for our region’s quality of life. So connect with your family and your neighbors along a parade route, at one of our downtown music venues or under a night sky lit by towering fireworks. Join with friends to catch a show, experience a cultural festival or take in a ball game. Whatever your personal definition of fun might be, get out and join in with it – or create it – here in Wichita, and we’ll be a stronger community because you did.

Mary Beth Jarvis is the president and CEO of Wichita Festivals, Inc.