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Ambassador of Riverfest 2019 is a dedicated volunteer and retired WPD captain

March 6, 2019 — WICHITA, Kan.— During a media event and piping-aboard ceremony today, Ken Atnip was revealed as Admiral Windwagon Smith XLVI, ambassador of Riverfest 2019.

“Ken is a fitting and inspiring choice to represent his fellow Riverfest volunteers,” said Mary Beth Jarvis, president and CEO of Wichita Festivals. “He’s a tireless advocate for our world-class party, and this is just one more way for him to share his love for all who work to make our community better.”

Atnip began his career in law enforcement at 21, joining the Wichita Police Department. He served mostly in investigations, including 15 years fighting narcotics and working on SCAT, the department’s Special Community Action Team to deter drug- and gang-related crime. Captain Atnip commanded the Property Crimes Bureau prior to retiring after 33 years of dedicated service.

The admiral began volunteering on the Riverfest Operations Team, nicknamed the Red Shirts, in the early 2000’s. Initially involved in Riverfest via his WPD role, he “quickly realized the importance of the event and how the work of festival staff and volunteers improves the overall quality of life for those who work and raise their families here.”

He has contributed his skills and dedication to every facet of the festival, doing set-up and tear down, working with national brands and touring exhibits, keeping the festival warehouse in tip-top shape, providing experienced guidance around event security, and more. Atnip took on the role of General Chair for Riverfest 2013 and has been fundamental to the success of other Wichita Festivals events, including Autumn & Art, Vortex Music Festival and Bracket Bash, receiving the Galaxy Award, Wichita Festivals’ most prestigious volunteer award.

The tradition of Admiral Windwagon Smith was established in 1974, when John Bell first wore the red coat during the third Riverfest, then known as Wichitennial River Festival. Atnip is the 46th admiral, and he was introduced at an event at the former central branch of the public library, against the backdrop of the Riverfest grounds.

Atnip has been a member of the Wichita Wagonmasters since 2009. He serves on the board of the Wichita Metro Crime Commission and is a recipient of their Twelve Apostles of Justice Award. He is a past president and current board member of Crime Stoppers Wichita/Sedgwick County. The Admiral and his wife, Mylene, recently celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. They have one son, Chase, who graduated from the University of Kansas and now lives in the Kansas City area.

As the official ambassador of Riverfest 2019, Atnip will visit children in local hospitals, speak to Wichita civic organizations and help host dozens of events during the nine days of Riverfest, May 31-June 8. He will be assisted by the 2019 Prairie Schooner Mates, who were also present at today’s event. These high school juniors are selected by their schools to be youth representatives for Riverfest.

In addition to revealing the admiral’s identity, Jarvis also shared information about Riverfest 2019:
• A reminder about early-bird button sales, when Adult buttons will be available at an early-bird discount price of $7 for adult buttons and $3 for children’s buttons via preorder at TicketSpice.com, and in person April 5-May 4 at Meineke Car Care Centers in Wichita, Derby and Hutchinson. Full-price buttons will be available at QuikTrip beginning May 5.
• This year’s festival features 126 events, 23 debuting for the first time: Riverfest Cornhole Tournaments; MapMusik; Ottaway Carnival; Project PopCon, a collaboration of Midwest e-Sports, Anime Fest Wichita and Air Capital Comic Con; Strawberry Swing Indie Craft Fair, Mp3 Experiment, River Blues Renewed, Spin-ICT; Young Lions Ninja Warrior Obstacle Course; Heavy Metal Karaoke; Wichita Wurlitzer with Delano Jazz Orchestra; Kids Fishing Derby; Drone Racing; Decorated Bike Contest and Parade; and The Big Float.

Here are this year’s Prairie Schooner Mates:

Daniel Archer, Derby High School
Irene Campos, Wichita West High
Taylor Clary, Goddard High School
Sabrina Flint, Eisenhower High School
Victoria George, The Independent School
Kellen Hagans, Northeast Magnet
Jessica Hernandez, Campus High School
Ambyre Raye King, Newton High School
Blair Lashley, Bishop Carroll
Abby McCoy, Maize High School
Alexyss Miller, Wichita South High School
Thomas Moore, Kingman High School
Sadie Millard, Wichita North High School
Lolly Newman, Wichita Collegiate School
Emma Neuway, Wichita Northwest High School
Declan Peters, Wichita Southeast High School
Amy Pham, Kapaun Mt. Carmel
Thu Phung, Wichita East High School
McKinley Pruitt, Maize South
Steven Robles, Andover Central High School
Stan Rush, Andale High School
Zoe Schmitt, Valley Center High School
Jessica Taylor, Wichita Heights High School
Elizabeth Tuck – Trinity Academy

New Riverfest sponsors include: 7 Clans First Council Casino Hotel, Ascension Via Christi, Black Hills Energy, Dillons, Duke Aerial Inc., Fugate Enterprises, ICTeeth, Johnson Media Services, Southern Glazers Wine & Spirits, Superior Rents, Trinity Rentals, and Wild Bill’s Olde Fashioned Soda Pop Co.

Riverfest 2019 Official Sponsors include: Bud Light, Decker Electric, Metro Courier, Parr Sound & Lighting, PrairieLand Partners, RedGuard SiteBox, Spot’s Party Bus, Southern Glazers Wine & Spirits, Sunflower Bank, Van Horn Promotion & Marketing, and Visit Wichita.

Wichita Festivals, Inc. is a non-profit corporation with the purpose of creating diverse community celebrations within the Wichita community. The primary events produced by Wichita Festivals, Inc. are Riverfest (May 31-June 8, 2019), Bob Struble Memorial Golf Tournament (September 6, 2019) and Autumn & Art at Bradley Fair (September 13-15, 2019). For more information about Wichita Festivals, Inc. or its events, contact Teri Mott at (316) 267-2817 or teri@wichitafestivals.com.


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