Heavy rains before, and storms during the festival did not stop attendees from chowing down and shaking a leg
June 9, 2019 – WICHITA, Kan. – In spite of high water, rapid currents, and storms midweek, the 48th Riverfest finished on a high note, with the biggest festival day in 13 years, event officials announced today.
Throughout the nine-day celebration, a total of 440,000 attendees enjoyed more than 100 events, with the largest crowds gathering for beloved traditions and brand-new events on opening and closing days. An estimated 75,000 people participated in Riverfest events on each of those days, with Saturday tallying the festival’s highest food and beverage sales since May 13, 2006.
“A rushing river and some storm clouds can’t keep Wichitans from having a great time and supporting their community celebration,” said Mary Beth Jarvis, president and CEO of Wichita Festivals, Inc., the non-profit organization that produces Riverfest. “Without events like paddleboats and jet-ski races, folks just turned their attention to our wonderful concert line-up and diverse events. We’re so grateful to the generous sponsors and hard-working volunteers who power this event to success decade after decade, no matter what.”
Here are Riverfest 2019 results in to date:
• 440,000 total estimated attendees:
o Overall attendance was down about 4 percent, as were food court ticket sales, due to stormy weather on Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon
o Among the largest-drawing events within the festival were the Capitol Federal Fireworks Finale (60,000 people), the Safelite® AutoGlass Sundown parade (45,000) and the Textron Aviation Opening Night Fireworks (40,000)
o The festival’s largest stage show was the Spirit AeroSystems’ Rockin’ on the River concert starring Sublime with Rome. Thirty five thousand people packed Kennedy Plaza on Saturday for that show on the Wichita Acura Dealers Stage.
o Other huge draws included headliners Gogol Bordello (20,000); Granger Smith (18,000), Trombone Shorty (18,000) and Yolanda Adams (17,000) on the Wichita Acura Dealers Stage, as well as Fiesta del Rio (18,000), held on the RedGuard stage in the WaterWalk area.
• Despite no water activities, other programs grew, including the Fidelity Bank River Run (with participation up 25%) and thousands attending STEAM City, the Riverfest Classic Car Show and Midwest Super Car Show, and the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show.
• Nearly 19,000 buttons were sold on site during the nine days of the event, with tens of thousands more sold at QuikTrip stores (final numbers to come.)
• Merchandise sales were up 15% over 2018, with Heartlandia stickers and jewelry, as well as local-artist-designed festival socks, tea towels and bandanas, joining t-shirts and other apparel.
• The festival enjoyed a solid safety and security record, with only 10 EMS transports and six arrests, primarily for marijuana possession or outstanding warrants.
• More than 300 partners contributed more than $900,000 in cash sponsorships plus more than $1,000,000 of in-kind support. Non-cash donations ranged from media advertising space and broadcast time to concrete barriers from Wildcat Construction and work vehicles from Don Hattan and Rusty Eck Ford.
• Nearly 9,000 volunteers assisted with the festival, including 1,800 new volunteers and volunteer groups from more than 315 companies and organizations. Festival officials expect work-hours for these volunteers to total more than 67,000 hours.
• Twenty new events debuted at Riverfest 2019, including Project PopCon, Strawberry Swing Indie Craft Market, Riverfest Cornhole sponsored by Star Lumber & Supply, and Drone Races.
• The new Wichita Riverfest 2019 mobile app, powered by Westar Energy, included a live map created by local artists Rebekah Lewis and Josh Tripoli.
• Eleven attendees completed the challenging Meritrust Fest Quest scavenger hunt game on the app, qualifying them for a cash drawing. Tiffany LaRue Elliott of Wichita was the winner, and will be presented with the $1,000 prize.
• Attendees drank thousands of gallons of chilled water from two Water Monster refill stations sponsored by Kansas Health Foundation.
Special thanks to our Riverfest Official Sponsors for 2019: Bud Light, Decker Electric, Metro Courier, Parr Sound and Lighting, PrairieLand Partners, RedGuard SiteBox, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, Spot’s Party Bus, Van Horn Promotion and Marketing, and Visit Wichita.
About Wichita Festivals, Inc.: Wichita Festivals, Inc. is a non-profit corporation with the purpose of creating diverse community celebrations for the Wichita community. The primary events produced by Wichita Festivals, Inc. are Riverfest, Bob Struble Memorial Golf Tournament (September 6, 2019) and Autumn and Art at Bradley Fair (September 13-15, 2019). For more information, contact Teri Mott at (316) 267-2817 or firstname.lastname@example.org.