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Wichita River Festival Names New Leader

Wichita Festivals, Inc.

A Wichita native who has experience planning events in Chicago and Singapore is the new head of the Wichita River Festival.

Ty Tabing will become CEO and president of Wichita Festivals, which produces the annual nine-day celebration downtown.

Tabing has done economic development, city revitalization work and event planning in Chicago and Singapore. He returned to Wichita in 2017 and has worked with Wichita State University and the Douglas Design District on placemaking and infrastructure projects. He also serves on the Wichita Board of Park Commissioners.

Tabing, 52, is a graduate of Wichita North High School and WSU. He has a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago.

Tabing said he hopes to use the River Festival to better connect people to Wichita.

“The more meaningful relationships that people have with their city; the more elbows they rub with other people around the community, I think the city is better,” he said.

Tabing said events like Riverfest can help attract and retain young people. It also can boost the city’s economy – he said Riverfest has an annual economic impact of $30 million.

Tabing will replace Mary Beth Jarvis. She stepped down earlier this year after leading Wichita Festivals since 2012.

Tabing said he would like Riverfest to be even “more uniquely Wichita, more uniquely Kansas. I think any event that can be lifted up and placed in another city in kind of a seamless way probably doesn’t have enough things that are unique to the environment where it started.”

Wichita Festivals also produces Autumn and Art at Bradley Fair, a three-day fine arts show and sale.

Next year’s Wichita Riverfest is scheduled for May 29-June 6.

Tom Shine is director of news and public affairs at KMUW. Follow him on Twitter@thomaspshine.

Tom joined KMUW in 2017 after spending 37 years with The Wichita Eagle where he held a variety of reporting and editing roles. He also is host of The Range, KMUW’s weekly show about where we live and the people who live here. Tom is an adjunct instructor in the Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State University.