Fireworks, a rave, Gardenfest and more. Here are the events added to Riverfest 2024

Riverfest officials have announced several new events — and a few returning favorites — for this year’s festival. But no, the antique bathtub race isn’t one of them.

“Everyone goes back to they want the antique bathtub races,” Nancy Duling, president and CEO of Wichita Festivals, said. “And, again, it’s just like anything — it’s evolved over time … I have not seen an antique bathtub in quite some time.”

While antique ones aren’t part of this year’s festival, which begins May 31, Duling highlighted the cowboy bathtub race, an event where contestants race along the river in stock tanks. Duling tied this back to Wichita Festivals’ aim to listen to the community.

“We’re trying to just be creative and making sure that we have events that will appeal to everyone,” Duling said. “We’re really trying to make sure that this is, you know, this is what our community wants.”

Here’s a look at the recently announced events.

Fishing derby

Attendees will be able to cast their lines in the Arkansas River, free of charge, in the Riverfest Fishing Derby. The Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks will stock the river with fish and provide all the necessary fishing equipment.

“All you have to do is just show up,” Duling said.

David Breth, sportfishing education coordinator for KDWP, said he hopes that the event encourages more residents to fish.

“Having organizations create these events, reach out to us … that’s the only way that we can attain our mission of getting people fishing or getting people recreating outside,” Breath said. “So it means everything for us to have this.”

The event, which will be held between the Douglas and Lewis Street bridges, is catch-and-release only. Thirty active fishers can participate in half-hour increments during the event, which will be held from 8 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 8. Prizes will be offered for various types of catches and include the biggest fish, the most unique, and more.

Gardenfest at Botanica

Bringing back a pre-pandemic event, Riverfest will hold Gardenfest at Botanica, where attendees can explore the gardens for free. The first 100 children to attend will be able to plant a flower, and then take it home.

Nikki Smith, Botanica’s director of community engagement & education, said that partnering with Riverfest was a “no-brainer.”

“People’s lives are enriched by nature, and oftentimes, in a larger city, we’re removed from the process of growing plants,” Smith said. “By inviting guests and children to come out into the garden, to be inspired by the beautiful cultivated space, but also to get their hands dirty to feel what it feels like to put a flower in the soil and then to get to take it home … It just inspires a new generation for a love of nature and encourages continued growth of that in and around Wichita.”

Gardenfest will be open at Botanica, 701 N. Amidon, from 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4.

Rave at Wave

Expanding outside of Riverfest’s typical locational bubble, a dance party will be held at Wave, 650 E. Second St. Meant to attract young adults, such as college students, the Rave at Wave will feature “fast-paced, repetitive, electrifying music and lights” from 9 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, June 1.

“To create these partnerships, we have got to go where these venues are, and so that is the reasoning for doing outside of our footprint,” Duling said.

Photography contest

After a break in 2023, Riverfest attendees will also see the return of the photography contest over the course of the festival’s nine days.

“And again, that was something that the public asked for,” Duling said. “A community member came forward and said ‘I would be willing to do a donation for it.’”

The contest will feature seven categories, with cash prizes offered for the winning works. More information on the categories and contests can be found at

Other activities

Following the Drake White concert on Tuesday, June 4, attendees will be able to stay seated and turn to the sky to see a midweek fireworks show. This will be added on top of the festival’s first and final night fireworks show.

Here’s a full list of the other new/returning events:

  • Great American Kites — An aerial display of different creatures will paint the sky on Saturday, June 1, and Sunday, June 2, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • HMS Pinafore Opera — Come see “H.M.S. Pinafore,” a comic opera focusing on sea life, in Century II. Admission requires additional ticket purchase. Saturday, June 1, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 2, at 2 p.m.

  • Wurlitzer Concert — Inside Century II on Wednesday, June 5, from 6 to 8 p.m, hear an organ concert featuring Brett Valliant. Free to those with Riverfest buttons.

  • Bike Parade — Attendees on wheels will have the chance to win prizes for bike styling at Riverfest’s south gate entrance. The event starts Saturday, June 8, at 11 a.m.

A full list of Riverfest events can be found at

Duling noted that this guide will be used instead of an app, unlike prior years.

“(The app) would get jammed with everyone down there, so that’s why we’re doing the digital guide this year,” Duling said.

Riverfest begins Friday, May 31, with hot air balloons and end with a fireworks show on Saturday, June 8.

Buttons can be purchased at, at Riverfest entrances or at any local QuikTrip, including those in Newton, El Dorado and Derby.