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Wichita Festivals, Inc. unveiled the official artwork and announced new events and changes for Riverfest 2019 at a media event on Friday, January 25, at Emprise Bank, sponsor of the artwork contest.
“Having the community gather in our building each January to see the new Riverfest poster and meet the winning artist is really exciting for us,” said Emprise Bank Chairman and CEO Matt Michaelis. “We’re honored to support the poster artwork contest and host the reveal. Wichita Festivals always brings energy and creativity to the unveiling.”
Wichita-based artist Jay Walter collected a check for $4,000 for his design, which depicts iconic downtown buildings and features a break-dancer as the centerpiece for key Riverfest activities. Having wanted to enter the Riverfest Poster & Button Artwork Contest for years, this was the first year Walter pulled the trigger. He sketched a handful of compositions before honing in on the “Downtown Get Down” theme.
“I’m so excited to have this opportunity as an artist and a citizen,” Walter said. “What a perfect-for-me way to support the Wichita community and contribute to Riverfest. And it was a great contest experience, thanks to the team at Wichita Festivals and Emprise Bank.” The button designs capture elements of the winning poster, and the art will be featured in promotional materials and on merchandise.
The poster, sponsored by Docuplex, serves as an invitation to the largest community celebration in Kansas: Riverfest, set for May 31-June 8. A Riverfest button allows admission for all nine days of the festival. Adult buttons (for ages 13 and up) are available at the early-bird price of $7 when purchased by online presale now at wichitafestivals.ticketspice.com/2019-button-sales or in person April 5-May 4 at Meineke Car Care Centers. The price for the popular child’s button (ages 6-12) will be $3 through May 4. Starting May 5, buttons will be available at area QuikTrip locations: $10 for adults and $5 for children. Kids five years old and younger get in free.
“Jay’s design has a lively party feel, capturing how Riverfest infuses our downtown with fun and celebration,” said Mary Beth Jarvis, Wichita Festivals’ president and CEO. “What a perfect theme for this festival, which will be packed with honored traditions, new events and diverse performances everyone can enjoy. Riverfest, our region’s signature event for 47 years, is shaping up to have a great 2019.”
While in the art-filled atrium of Emprise Bank, festival organizers also outlined how this year’s Artist-in-Residence, George Ferrandi of Brooklyn, N.Y., will engage with local artists and festivalgoers as part of her larger national project, called Jump!Star.
“Riverfest is the perfect kick-off for Jump!Star, which is working to build communities connected by embracing that which is bigger than any of us,” said Kate Van Steenhuyse, executive director of Harvester Arts, which has partnered with Wichita Festivals on the Artist-in-Residence program since 2015.
Ferrandi’s Jump!Star movement aims to celebrate and create new traditions around the eventual changing of our North Star. Throughout the festival, Ferrandi will host evening workshops for the public to contribute to an installation in A. Price Woodard Park, which transforms during Riverfest into a riverfront festival zone called Ackerman’s Backyard. Wichita State University students also are working, with the artist’s guidance, to build large paper lanterns that will be carried in the Safelite AutoGlass® Sundown Parade and put on display in the windows of the former central-branch library on Main Street.
The 48th festival will feature traditional favorites, such as the Capitol Federal Fireworks Finale, set for closing night after Spirit AeroSystems’ Rockin’ on the River concert. Popular events, including the Hiland Dairy Ice Cream Social, CNH Industrial Buckaroo/Buckarette Rodeo and Goodwill Cajun Food Fest, will also return. Some favorites will come with a twist, including a new route for the Safelite AutoGlass® Sundown Parade.
In addition, the June 1 River Run gets a new race – the Katie Partridge Memorial 5K. “A Riverfest fixture since the 1970s, the River Run remains the ‘big daddy’ of foot races in Kansas, and we’re excited to add a 5K option,” said Jarvis.
New events and elements include an expanded Riverfest mobile app sponsored by Westar Energy, with an interactive map by local design team Lupoli; CycleNation, a fundraiser for the American Heart Association; drone races; a cornhole tournament presented by Air Capital Cornhole; Heavy Metal Karaoke; The Big Float, sponsored by Coleman, which will take place on the Arkansas River from Old Cowtown Museum to the Wichita Boathouse; a concert on the renowned Wichita Wurlitzer; and “Project PopCon,” a hybrid esports, anime, and comicon event.
In the spirit of Wichita Festivals’ mission of community celebration, the Celebrations for a Cause program will return, giving people the chance to buy $5 buttons, which Festivals donates to service organizations, so that more citizens can be included in Riverfest. Riverfest will also stage a “Welcome to Wichita Day” for 250 interns visiting and working in Wichita for the summer.
Walter, a 26-year-old designer, coder, husband and dad, lives in Wichita. He grew up in Manhattan, Kan., sixth in a line of eleven children. The artist’s parents and siblings are each creative geniuses in their own right. “I remember spur-of-the-moment ‘drawing contests’ breaking out at our kitchen table. We’d pick what to draw, and then each do our take and compare to judge whose was the best.”
As a kid, Walter had a fascination with computers, which claimed a fair amount of his time. Sure, there were games to be played, but also new ways to be creative, often with Microsoft Paint. At twelve, he unboxed his first Wacom tablet, which launched him down the path to graphic art and design. In high school, the artist was introduced to coding for websites, and success at his first job influenced his decision to forgo college for full-time web work. Website design, according to the artist, is the perfect match between an interest in technology and an artistic eye.
Walter designs and builds websites for Gardner Design, where he has been involved in such projects as the Sedgwick County Zoo’s new website and Heartlandia stickers. Other recent personal projects include art for his home, posters, and a forthcoming children’s book.
A team of design professionals met on Dec. 17 and selected the winning design from thirty-six submissions. Representatives from Emprise Bank and Wichita Festivals presented Walter with the $4,000 award for his design.
The much-anticipated Riverfest 2019 concert line-up will be released on Feb. 20 via Facebook, Twitter and Riverfest’s many media partners.
Wichita Festivals, Inc. is a non-profit organization with the purpose of creating diverse community celebrations for 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 or its events, contact Teri Mott at (316) 267-2817 or firstname.lastname@example.org.