The Wichita Riverfest has been the premiere celebration of the city and its citizens for over 40 years. It is an annual tradition that Mary Beth Jarvis, the President and CEO of Wichita Festivals, Inc., is extremely passionate about. “I love the idea of creating events that are designed to bring the whole community together. People from east Wichita and west Wichita alike, everyone is a citizen of Riverfest.” As her first year as President comes to a head with the organizations most widely anticipated event, Mary Beth says the experience so far has been a wonderful one. “I’ve been humbled by the number of people that are so invested. The volunteers, the Board of Directors, everyone has been 100% behind the work we’ve put into taking honored traditions and re-energizing them.”
For Riverfest 2013, Wichita Festivals, Inc. has worked hard to both breathe new life into old Riverfest favorites as well as introduce new events and programs. One such program is the “Cessna Celebrations for a Cause”; an event where individuals or companies can purchase admission buttons and donate them to organizations around the city, like the Wichita Children’s Home. “Our goal is to have 6,000 buttons donated so that everyone, even those who might not normally be able to attend Riverfest can.” This is also the first year that a children’s admission button will be available, only $3 for kids ages 6 through 12.
Other events included in this year’s lineup range all the way from an all day Zumba marathon and a Neon Night party to a Twist Off dance competition and a Cajun Food Festival. Wednesday night will see the return of the Block Party at the Waterwalk, and there will even be a beach party. There will be 300 tons of sand, a sandcastle building competition and a beach volleyball tournament, all right at the center of Kennedy Plaza.
Another new event this year is “Celebrate Abilities”, an event designed to commemorate those in our community with incredible abilities. “It isn’t enough to simply make Riverfest accessible to everyone; we want to celebrate everyone as well. There will be a street tennis exhibition by the WSU wheelchair tennis team, simulations with guide dogs, a seeing impaired martial arts exhibition and wonderful entertainment.”