Grand gatherings

At Naftzger Park and Evergy Pavilion

Written by Julie Hying

A jewel hidden in the heart of the city is what Wichita has in Naftzger Park and Evergy Pavilion. Newly restored, the lush lawn spaces and large Evergy Pavilion invite groups to gather or meet to spend time one-on-one, sharing in the relaxed feel of the beautiful outdoor space. Originally built and created in 1977, it was named M.C. Naftzger Memorial Park and provided a traditional park for downtown residents and visitors.

In recent years the park has been renovated. On July 29, they hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony, and the gathering included The Wichita Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet, guest speakers, yard games, food trucks and a movie.

Boasting a new look, Naftzger Park also offers so many recreational options to Wichitans. Daily, people stroll through the park areas, meet for lunch, play games on the lawn, walk and play with dogs (or take advantage of the dog run) and visit with old friends or find new ones.

Assistant recreation supervisor Katie Dawes shares her favorite aspects of the park. “People enjoy the many events we host here. But I really love how each day is full of folks enjoying the park in various ways. Even though the natural elements are visually pleasing and abundant, the nine-by-16 foot LED digital board is often a point of focus.”

Now playing on the big screen

Here are some upcoming activities that take advantage of the big screen: Every other Tuesday morning from 10–11 a.m, Naftzger Park hosts Storytime in the Park. Wichita Park & Recreation and Storytime Village have partnered to put together this fun-filled event. This activity allows children to listen to two picture books while seeing the images vividly on the big screen.

Some of the upcoming Tuesday titles include: “There was an Old Monster,” “A Parade of Elephants,” “The Little Shop of Monsters,” and “Too Many Pumpkins.” Additionally, these mornings also offer different activities and games after the books are shared.

On September 16 at 6 p.m., children’s book author Sontia Levy-Mason will be on site to read her most recent book, “You Have a Divine Purpose.” Each intriguing page encourages both children and adults to consider and embrace their individuality, to live fearlessly in the path of their lives and in pursuit of their dreams.

The LED screen is also perfect for movie viewing. This summer crowds gathered to watch a 2021 release, “Raya and the Last Dragon,” as well as a 1985 adventure–comedy, a Steven Spielberg classic, ”The Goonies.” For a fun fall flick on October 8 the park will feature a Halloween favorite, “Hocus Pocus.”

Eat, drink and dance

Located at 601 E. Douglas, just north of Intrust Bank Arena, the park is close to many local options. Within a block or two is Peace, Love & Pie, the Old Mill Tasty Shop, Paradise Donuts as well as HomeGrown Wichita. Those looking for an afternoon or evening beverage in the vicinity will find favorites, including Third Place Brewing, Norton's Brewing Company, and PourHouse by Walnut River Brewing Co. People staying at nearby hotels such as Hotel at Old Town, the Ambassador Hotel and the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown, can escape the confines of their rooms and walk or relax in the park atmosphere.

Concerts featured at Naftzger Park draw music lovers to gather at Evergy Pavilion on the park’s south lawn. Often Wichita Park & Recreation partners with Wave to bring musical talent and entertainment to the park. Typically, featured concerts are an evening event. August’s line-up included Electric Six and Trevor Stewart, bringing live music to the park and surrounding areas. Various sections of The Wichita Symphony Orchestra also perform here. With a one acre area of natural grass and artificial turf, there is ample space for seating and a casual place to enjoy live music.

Evergy Pavilion also serves as a venue to host other kinds of events like ballet performances, exercise classes, Shine Dance Fitness classes and many others.

This year the ICT Fest will be held at Naftzger Park September 2–4. There will be activities, food trucks and good times to be had. On September 19 and October 17, the monthly market Shop & Grub will allow patrons to enjoy delicious cuisine and shop from local vendors.

For more information about the park, visit NaftzgerPark.com or their Facebook page for information and upcoming events.

 
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