WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita Riverfest released their current COVID-19 event protocols and announced event changes the public can expect at this fall’s Riverfest, Sept. 30-Oct. 3.

This month two major events are coming to south-central Kansas — Riverfest and the Kansas State Fair. With COVID in the mix, organizers are making a few changes.

The state fair is just a week away. The fair’s general manager said they are working with the government to plan how to hold this event safely.

Masks will be encouraged but will not be required at the Kansas State Fair or Riverfest.

The following COVID-19 protocols have been established by Wichita Festivals, Inc. staff with the understanding that details can change at any time.

  • Unvaccinated attendees, including children 2 years old and older, are asked to wear a mask at all Riverfest and other WFI events.
  • Vaccinated attendees are urged to wear a mask in crowded areas.
  • For indoor events, masks are encouraged.
  • Social distancing is strongly encouraged at both outdoor and indoor event venues.
  • Hand sanitizers will be available at several locations across the festival grounds.
  • Hands-free refilling stations for water bottles will be available and sanitized regularly.
  • Ticket booths, counters and tables will be sanitized regularly.
  • The merchandise tent will have masks on hand and will accept cashless payment options.

Riverfest said guests who cannot or will not conform to all of the above criteria must not enter an event venue. The festival also said that if a guest does not meet all of the above criteria, they and their party may be asked to leave the venue.

Wichita Riverfest event changes

Meanwhile, a handful of events that traditionally attract many youngsters 12 and younger, including Kids Corner and Ottaway Carnival, will not take place this fall.

“We know a big part about what we all enjoy about Riverfest is seeing the kids delight in being able to experience it, but that’s not gonna happen this year,” said Ann Keefer, the interim president and CEO of Wichita Festivals.

The Sundown Parade will be a reverse parade, with viewers driving through a line-up of the parade entries. Headliner concerts, fireworks, river events, food vendors and more are currently scheduled to take place.

Riverfest adult admission buttons ($10) will be available at area QuikTrip locations starting Sept. 6. Children’s buttons (for kids 6-12) are $5 and will be available at the festival gates only during the event. Kids five years old and younger get in free. Those who bought Riverfest 2020 buttons can use them for admission to the fall portion of the festival, which will be gated.

For more information, go to WichitaRiverfest.com.

Kansas State Fair plans

The general manager of the Kansas State Fair said they too are encouraging people to wear masks while indoors and received 100,000 masks from the state.

“We are giving it up to everybody to follow the rules,” said Byan Schulz, the general manager of the Kansas State Fair.

Schulz says they will also try to help with social distancing inside fair buildings by directing traffic flow, possibly with arrows on the floor, similar to the way stores did early in the pandemic.

For more information about the Kansas State fair, click here.

The state fair and the Riverfest were canceled in 2020, and organizers said the hope is to safely gather and celebrate this year.

“Not having the 2020 fair was a big disappointment for a lot of people, including our team worked endless hours trying to get the fair running,” Schulz said.

This year, Riverfest was split. In June, the festival held virtual and smaller events in hopes that COVID cases would subside by September.

“We haven’t done a live event in over 19 months, so it is an interesting time to be in the industry, and you know I’ve been doing this for a number of years now, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Keefer said.

Both of the event organizers said they hope to hold an even bigger event and celebration in 2022. They said they hope by this time next year, COVID will no longer be a problem.