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Riverfest Will Return In 2021, But With A New Format

Hugo Phan
KMUW/File photo

Wichita Festivals announced Friday the return of Riverfest, but the event will look different than in years past.

Instead of the traditional nine-day event in June, Riverfest will be presented over two separate, extended weekends.

From June 4-6, Riverfest will host its traditional participatory events and two new virtual events. Between Sept. 30 and Oct. 3, it will be a more traditional festival with food courts and concerts.

Ann Keefer is the interim president and CEO of Wichita Festivals. She says she’s excited for the return of Riverfest.

“We know that you’re ready to get out there and party again. And so are we,” Keefer said. “We also feel a strong responsibility to keep our fans safe. So, Riverfest is going to look a little bit different this year, and we hope you’re excited to join us.”

Last year’s Riverfest was canceled due to the pandemic. A nine-day “virtual Riverfest 2020” was held in its place.

A third of Wichita Festival’s staff was let go due to financial problems caused by the pandemic. That included CEO Ty Tabing, who stepped down voluntarily.

Wichita Festivals is a nonprofit organization, which – according to its website – creates “diverse celebrations for the Wichita community.”

Riverfest is traditionally one of the largest community events in Kansas. It has attracted hundreds of thousands of people in recent years.

Keefer says she hopes to see those big crowds next year.

“Don’t expect this to become the norm,” Keefer said. “2022, we’ll come back with our regular nine-day festival and that will also be in celebration of our 50th festival.”

Each year, artists design posters to help promote the event. Last year’s winners, Meghan and Juanta Wolfe, weren’t able to display their poster because of the cancelation.

Riverfest and contest partner Emprise Bank announced that the Wolfes will return as the official artists of Riverfest with an updated poster.

“One year ago we had the honor of having our artwork selected for the 2020 Riverfest poster,” Juanta Wolfe said in a video produced by Wichita Festivals.

“So many of you haven’t seen it yet, and we are very happy to have been able to update it this year,” Meghan Wolfe added. “We were very inspired by the events of the past year, and we hope that will be reflected in the poster changes.”

More information on Riverfest 2021 can be viewed here.

Michael Perreault is an intern in the KMUW News Lab. He is a senior in Wichita State University's Elliott School of Communication.