How to conquer Riverfest like a local


Manny De Los Santos

Funnel cake is one of the most popular food items available at Riverfest.

Kickstart the summer like a true Wichitan with Riverfest, May 31 to June 8. As if you needed another reason to stop by a Quiktrip, pick up buttons for just $10 and hit the riverbank. Whether this is your first or fifth time attending, here’s a foolproof guide to conquering Riverfest like a local this year.

Fireworks Show

The fireworks show is the ultimate fan favorite. While the show can be seen all across town, that doesn’t mean it should be. There are two good ways to conquer the opening and closing night extravaganzas.

If you’re an early bird, grab a picnic blanket, some snacks and a cuddle buddy and find a spot next to the river right before sunset. Watching the sunset and fireworks show on a breezy summer night is a win-win. Sitting along the Arkansas River undoubtedly provides the best and brightest view.

If you’re feeling a little spontaneous, grab a group of friends and hit the top floor of any high-rise parking garage in town. Bring a speaker and have an impromptu dance party on the roof with fireworks in the background. A night like this is guaranteed to make you feel like the protagonist of any coming of age film.



With nothing but a Riverfest button, you can catch up to 30 different performances and concerts throughout the week. With big names like Sublime with Rome, Toadies and Gogol Bordello headlining, Riverfest is good for your soul and bank account.

In addition to the big names, catch local favorites like Kill Vargas and the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. By far a hidden gem of the festival, don’t miss the Festival of Broadway on Tuesday, June 4 starting at 6:30 p.m. with the Laughing Feet Performers. Featuring Roxy’s Downtown, Mosley Street Melodrama, and Music Theatre Wichita, this night is radiating with local talent and pizazz.


Food and activities

Besides all the concerts, the food and activities of Riverfest are not to be missed. The first weekend of Riverfest, catch the Strawberry Swing Indie Craft Fair from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Specializing in locally handmade crafts and goods, Strawberry Swing is a great opportunity to support local artisans and craftsmen based right here in the midwest.

The hot air balloon show is a must-see. Catch dozens of hot air balloons taking the sky on June 2. Just south of the Redguard stage, the balloons launch at 6:30 p.m. sharp, but by 8:30 p.m., the balloons will be glowing against the night sky. If you do anything this weekend, catch this spectacular sight.

Funnel cake is a festival staple, and what better way to get your cake and eat it too than on than the 10th Annual Funnel Cake Eating Contest. Saturday, June 8 starting at 3:00 p.m., contestants will try their hand at eating as many funnel cakes as humanly possible in just 10 minutes. Think you’re up to the challenge? Get to the Quantum Credit Union Food Court starting at 2:30 p.m. to sign up.

Check out a full list of activities, events, and vendors available on the Riverfest website.